Seniors hear panels at analytics conference


Senior attendees of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference travelled to Boston March 11 and 12 to learn about sports stats/ Printed with permission of William Thill

Bennett Gross

Twelve students and three faculty members attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on March 11 and 12 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The conference consisted of 32 panels over two days, with high-level team owners, general managers and statisticians speaking and thousands of other college students and team employees attending the convention.

“I have attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference four times now,” AP Statistics teacher William Thill said. “It is exciting for me to see my students join a professional community of researchers, athletes, coaches and business leaders by attending the conference.”

Some notable speakers included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who spoke about the evolution of hockey and where the league is headed in the future, and Nate Silver, who is the founder of Silver talked to the thousands in attendance about the 2016 presidential election and different metrics he was manipulating in order to determine which team would win the NCAA basketball tournament.

“The conference was a lot of fun, and it was really interesting to learn about what stats in the real world is like,” Bray Caverly ’16 said. “It was fascinating to see how what we are learning in class can be applied to so many different fields such as politics or sports.”

This was the second year that the trip was offered to juniors and seniors at Harvard-Westlake.

It was mainly geared towards students currently or previously enrolled in the Sports Research and AP Statistics courses.

“I was in Sports Research last year, and going back to the conference a second time was an awesome experience, because even though I attended some panels that were similar to previous ones I attended, I enjoyed hearing the new developments in technology and new opinions from the different panelists,” Brady Engel ’16 said.

At the conference, students and faculty met up with alums who previously took the AP Statistics and sports research courses and are pursuing jobs in sports management.

“I was also thrilled that our students got to meet former students in the sports analytics industry who took Sports Research or AP Statistics,” Thill said.

Alum Cole Jacobson ’15 who attended the conference felt that going back was a different experience, but seeing his former teachers and peers was also a cool bonus.

While not attending the conference, students had the opportunity to explore Boston on their own.

“One of my favorite parts of the trip was walking around Boston with my friends and visiting stores and restaurants that are unique to the area,” Engel said.