Boston Sports Day

Obama To Speak At MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, February 23

Barack_Obama (Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project) Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project

The 44th President of the United StatesBarack Obama, will speak at the 2018 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. In addition to President Obama’s appearance, insights from two of North America’s major sports league commissioners will highlight discussions around the evolving sports media landscape, the role of artificial intelligence in sports, player data access, and e-sports growth, among many other topics during this year’s conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on February 23-24, 2018.

A well-known sports fan, President Obama will discuss his time in office and the next chapter of his life during his appearance on Friday, February 23rd.

Two major sports commissioners— NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred— will address the major trends in the industry alongside the sectors’ biggest innovators and disruptors.

Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, is slated to address topics ranging from team ownership and strategy to his data-driven government-spending initiative, USAFacts.

Presented by ESPN, this year’s theme is “Talk Data to Me,” which will focus on communicating analytics-powered insights to drive impact on and off the field.

Industry experts, team owners, league executives, coaches, athletes, and academics who are defining the future of sports are slated to attend.  Through a series of panels, presentations, competitions, workshops, and exhibitions, those in the industry share insights, new approaches, and connect at the annual gathering. Last year’s event drew 3,200-plus attendees.

“Analytics is widely accepted as a competitive advantage on the field and in the front office, but we are still in the formative days as an industry,” said Jessica Gelman, conference co-chair and co-founder who serves as CEO of KAGR (Kraft Analytics Group). “As we continue to grow the sports analytics space and provide a forum to share knowledge, the energy of the students in the conference and support from sports industry leaders create a special atmosphere each year.”

Also slated to participate are:

  • Alex Rodriguez, former MLB star
  • Former NBA GMs David GriffinMitch Kupchak, and Sam Hinkie
  • Team owners Ted Leonsis of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, Jonathan Kraft of the New England PatriotsTilman Fertitta of the Houston RocketsKim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, and Carlie Irsay-Gordon of the Indianapolis Colts

They will be joined by an all-star lineup of 100-plus speakers including, among others:

  • Michael RubinFounder and CEO, Kynetic
  • Nick CaserioDirector of Player Personnel, New England Patriots
  • Tod Leiweke, COO of the NFL
  • Steve PagliucaCo-owner & Managing General Partner, Boston Celtics
  • Sue BirdSeattle Storm; two-time WNBA Champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Michele RobertsExecutive Director, NBA Players Association
  • John Collins, CEO, On Location Experiences
  • Maverick Carter, CEO, SpringHill Entertainment
  • Nate Silver, statistician, author, and founder of FiveThirtyEight

The current list of publicized speakers is available here.

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is a non-profit conference founded and co-chaired by Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets and an MIT Sloan MBA ’00, and Jessica Gelman, CEO of KAGR (Kraft Analytics Group). The annual conference is organized by MIT Sloan students.

Katherine Booth, MIT Sloan MBA ’18 and student Marketing and Communications Lead, may be reached at

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