MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Panels: The Interactive Visualization

Sloan Chart

With the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference upon us we were inspired to take a look back over the last 7 years. We compiled a list of every panelist from 2007 – 2013 from the conference website. This information includes: the year, name the of panelists, organization they represent, name of the panel, primary sport (if applicable) and gender. Based on this we compiled a variety of stats and ultimately put together a chart that displays every panelist organized by year and their primary sport. If you click the icon it will take you to the video of the panel if it’s available (awesome).

The visual is larger than the blog space, so click here to play around.

Below we list out some of the interesting data points gathered.

Team Participation (Player or Front Office member)

    The NBA leads with highest percentage of participating teams with 50% (Celtics, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Mavericks, Suns, Bulls, Pacers, Raptors, Warriors, Knicks, Lakers, Pistons, Magic, Nets).
    NFL (43.75%) – 49ers, Rams, Browns, Eagles, Patriots, Giants, Cowboys, Jets, Lions, Jaguars, Saints, Chiefs, Broncos, Falcons
    MLB (36.67%) – Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Padres, Astros, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Rays, Marlins, Indians, Athletics
    NHL (20%) – Bruins, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Penguins, Capitals, Kings

Sport Representation

    Baseball is well known for being at the forefront of stats and sports. The first two years (07 and 08) Baseball panelists led the way with 6 and 9 appearances respectively.
    Since that time Basketball has led 4 out of the next 5 years (09, 10, 11, 13). This is largely due to high number of appearances by Daryl Morey and Mark Cuban (see next category).
    Football has been the fastest growing and dominated 2012 with 9 panelists. This year Football is #2 to Basketball with 10.
    SSAC has hosted many more than just the big 4 sports. Past inclusions are Racing (2012/13), Tennis (2012), Lacrosse (2007), Soccer (2007/09/10/11/12/13), MMA (2013) and Golf (2008/09/11/12).

Top Appearences

    SSAC co-founder and Rocket’s GM Daryl Morey and ESPN’s Bill Simmons lead all panelists with 9 appearances each.
    Top Ten: Darly Morey (9), Bill Simmons (9), Shira Springer (8), Jessica Gelman (8), Jeff Ma (8), Brian Burke (8), Mark Cuban (8), Dean Oliver (7), John Walsh (7), Mike Zarren (7).

Media Breakdown

    As a sponsor and massive entity, ESPN leads by a far margin in terms of appearances. ESPN personalities have appeared 93 times on panels (57.4% of all Media appearances).
    Top Ten: ESPN (93), Boston Globe (9), Sports Illustrated (9), SB Nation (5), Football Outsiders (5), New York Times (4), (4), Grantland (4 – not including Simmons… could be lumped with ESPN), Baseball Prospectus (3), Philadelphia Inquirer (2), Others (24).

Corporate Breakdown

    SSAC has done a great job bringing in a diverse group on companies into the analytics discussion. Most notably this year we’ll see a Big Data panel with companies like HP Vertica joining in.


A common joke at SSAC is the disparity between Male and Female attendees. The panel breakdown is not much better.

    Out of 589 panelists 61 were female (10.35%).
    This number improves slightly when you look at individuals rather than appearances. Out of 350 unique people 39 were female (11.14%).
    2010 was the lowest percentage year (6.85%). Breakdown is 2007 (17.5%), 2008 (10.34%), 2009 (11.67%), 2010 (6.85%), 2011 (10.58%), 2012 (10.24%), 2013 (8%).

There’s a lot more data to be parsed and we’re happy to share. We’ve made a google spreadsheet publicly available. Feel free to do your own breakdowns and let us know what you find in the comments. Grab the spreadsheet here.

Also, much of this data was hand compiled and may contain errors. If you notice something let us know and we’ll update appropriately.

I was contacted by an organizer of SSAC who mentioned that they make it a focus to find women to participate each year. We strongly encourage women (especially those who are in academia… great opportunity here) to participate and submit papers/proposals. I’ve been a part of many tech conference that suffer from the same discrepancy and the most common cause is the lack of submissions. If you or someone you know wants to contribute you should contact them directly here.