To Manage a Successful Sports Team, Focus on Data — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From Xconomy

The mantra of youth sports where “everyone gets a trophy” is permeating professional leagues. These days every team can claim some semblance of winning. In the bygone era of the NFL, two teams made the playoffs and that consisted of one game, the Super Bowl. Today six teams from each conference advance, and there is talk of adding more. In MLB, it used to be that the league leaders won the pennant and then went to the World Series; now, five teams in each league make the playoffs. In the NBA and the NHL, meanwhile, more than half of all teams make the post-season.

As the definition of post-season success broadens and winning becomes a commodity, a team’s performance isn’t enough to stand out in the $750 billion sports industry. And at a time where traditional revenue streams are under pressure and the competition for money, media, and sponsors remains stiff, sports organizations have to be more innovative.

So, what should they be doing to drive revenue? How can they use technology to attract and interact with fans? And, in the Age of Big Data, what’s the best use of analytics to increase ticket sales? These are some of the questions on the table at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

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MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Q&A with Co-Chair Daryl Morey

Daryl Morey, MIT Sloan MBA ‘00

As General Manager and Managing Director of Basketball Operations for the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey MBA ’00 has built a team that has gone a combined 227-167 (.576) over the last five seasons and has set a number of team records. In 2010, his innovative integration of statistical analytics into the evaluation of NBA talent, earned Morey selection to the SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40, which honors the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40. Prior to Houston, he served as SVP of Operations for the Boston Celtics.

Morey is also the co-chair of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a sports forum he founded in 2007 with Jessica Gelman of the New England Patriots. The conference—dubbed the “Super Bowl of sports analytics” by one ESPN columnist—examines the application of data and statistics to improve team and league performance. The fifth annual conference wrapped up over the weekend with its biggest numbers yet: five stages, 39 panels, and close to 3,000 attendees.

The MIT Sloan Experts Blog caught up with Morey recently. An edited transcript follows. Read More »

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: If you build it, they will come

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDXSoRLj8PY&w=560&h=315]

In 2007, Daryl Morey, MIT Sloan MBA ’00, and Jessica Gelman of The Kraft Sports Group had a vision to build a forum for innovation in sports. Just five years later, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference developed into that and more. With more than 2,200 participants, the conference grew by 50% from 2011 and featured some of the biggest names in the industry, including Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs President and GM, Mark Cuban, owner of the world-champion Dallas Mavericks, and Bill James, the founder of the sports analytics movement. It even included Drew Carey, owner of the MLS Seattle Sounders and Price is Right host. Read More »