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Monday, March 08, 2010
Highlights from MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

On Saturday, I was a panelist at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which is hosted by ESPN and which has become (in my opinion) the biggest annual event for sports professionals. I spoke on the "Performance Enhancement: Will Future Athletes be Formula One or NASCAR?" panel.

My panel included Phoenix Suns president of basketball operations and general manager Steve Kerr, ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief Gary Belsky, and several other excellent panelists. It was an awesome discussion. I could detail points of our discussion and audience questions (which included a question asked by Indianapolis Colts team president Bill Polian), but ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz already does, and quite well, in his column on the panel.

For a review on the entire event, check out Henry Abbott's excellent recap.

Academic papers were presented at the event, and one will clearly attract a good deal of interest. University of Chicago Professor Tobias Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim have co-written a paper on the presence of omission bias among referees. The paper is titled, “Whistle Swallowing: Officiating & the Omission Bias”.

As Kevin Arnovitz details in his recap of the paper, an omission bias in this context refers to a referee's willingness to make an incorrect call rather than make an incorrect non-call. Brian Robb of ESPN's Celtics Hub also has an extensive piece on the paper, which will be part of a book that Moskowitz and Wertheim publish in the near future.


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