CANA welcomes Jesse McNulty to the sports analytics team. Jesse is the former Director of Analytics for the Atlanta Blaze in Major League Lacrosse. After partnering with Jesse on numerous analytics projects over the past few years, he now has the opportunity through CANA to spread his expertise in sports analytics to multiple lacrosse teams and other sports. Jesse recently presented his work at SportCon and the wrote this informational post on the conference.
The worlds of analytics and statistical analysis in sport are increasingly merging. This fact was celebrated by MinneAnalytics this past Friday as they hosted the second-annual SportCon event, located at Optum Headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
The wide-reaching conference, which featured an exhaustive array of sport teams executives, experts, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs from every corner of sports and technology offered plenty for all attendees to enjoy.
Highlighted events in the morning sessions included the baseball panel featuring Jeremy Raadt and Daniel Adler from the Minnesota Twins along with Ty McDevitt and Patrick Casey of the University of Minnesota baseball team. During this session, the panelists provided their thoughts on the use, support structures, and coaching best practices for maximizing objective analysis in the game.
Next featured a presentation from Prof. Rodney Paul of Syracuse University who provided economic analysis to attendance data in Canadian Major Junior Hockey. Prof. Paul evaluated league attendance for the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League across some variables ranging from winning percentage, weather, rostered prospects, and many more.
To round out the morning session, I presented on Analysis in Major League Lacrosse. This presentation provided a focus on the "version 2.0", expanding upon the work being done over the last 24-months and discussed at the inaugural SportCon the previous year. The presentation was well-received and insightful questions from attendees on opportunities for growth, data collection, team structures, and future marketing opportunities were asked and discussed.
In addition to panels, speakers, start-up company showcases, and presentations, the SportCon event also included a tasty lunch, a midday mascot rampage from the Timberwolves, Wild, Vikings, and the independent league baseball team, the St. Paul Saints. Also, a series of professionals showed off drone racing, and members of the Drone Racing League (DRL) flew drones in, around, and over lunch attendees. The lunch session provided an opportunity for plenty of networking opportunities. I was seated with Nick Restifo of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Seth Partnow of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Prof. Zakary Mayo of St. Mary's University of Minnesota. Much of our conversation was centered around thoughts and reflections from the morning session on Analytics in Major League Lacrosse. Debates and insights around the topics of draft analysis, player performance monitoring, and league-wide data support was had and provided a variety of thought experiments into our present collection process, marketing of league data and materials, and future considerations with the collection of in-game events.
A highlighted session from this afternoon featured Prof. Tyler Bosch of the University of Minnesota and Dexalytics on monitoring and individualization of performance data in college athletes. Dr. Bosch focused much of his talk on providing frameworks for understanding differences in training responses. Perhaps in the coming years, integrating analytics into the collegiate ranks through the lens of human performance can help close the gap on a variety of focuses within science and sports medicine.
The 2018 SportCon event was well organized and serves to illuminate further research in the science and statistical analysis of sport. Also, SportCon hopes to elevate the burgeoning world of sports tech.
Walt DeGrange is a Principal Operations Research Analyst at CANA Advisors. To read more on Sports Analytics and article by other members of the CANA Team visit the CANA Blog.