Competing With Data & Analytics
One of the stars at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, held earlier this month in Boston, was a scholar who has applied his knowledge of geography to the ecosystem, or “court space,” of the basketball court.
Kirk Goldsberry, an assistant professor in the department of geography at Michigan State University and a visiting scholar at Harvard University, made a splash by stepping out of his main field.
“Goldsberry does health care research,” notes Fast Company in “In Relentless Jocks-Nerds War, Hope For Peace Through Analytics.” “He creates maps that reveal a community’s lack of access to fresh produce, and he publishes his findings in academic publications such as the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. But it’s Goldsberry’s latest research paper — “CourtVision: New Visual and Spatial Analytics for the NBA” — that has thrust him into the sports geek limelight. ‘I woke up yesterday never having been on national TV or in The New York Times and Sports Illustrated or interviewed by the Wall Street Journal,’ he says, incredulous that all those things have since happened.”
The annual conference has become a big event for what’s estimated to be a $400 billion business. It drew over 2,200 people, up from the 60 or so who attended the first conference six years ago. “ESPN, the lead sponsor, brings in more than that many staffers, nearly 100 this year, to use its promotional muscle and savvy to turn an event where much of the action involves presenting academic papers into a high-profile, entertaining affair,” writes Fast Company.
Videos from the conference are available for free at sloansportsconference.com. Among them: this conversation with Sports Data Hub founder Kevin Goodfellow on how Google, Facebook and Yahoo have turned sports analytics upside down:
Goldsberry’s basketball research uses “CourtVision, a new ensemble of analytical techniques designed to quantify, visualize, and communicate spatial aspects” of performance by members of the NBA.