September 29, 2022


Sports Really Satisfies

Sports analytics crowd turns to data to tackle diversity

BOSTON (AP) — Number crunchers have vanquished starting pitching and brought a barrage of 3-pointers to basketball.

Now they’re taking on a more intractable — and important — issue: making sports more inclusive.

The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this weekend features at least six sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion, from a discussion of the NFL’s Rooney Rule to one on transgender athletes. They’re using the same analytics increasingly applied to player performance to show what’s working, what isn’t, and how much work remains to make the world of sports more inclusive.

“It starts by shining light on data,” FanDuel CEO Amy Howe said during one panel on diversity. “Even though we might not love our starting point, we need to know what the starting point is so we can measure our progress.”

First held in 2007 as a one-day, on-campus affair attracting about 175 nerdy sports fans, the analytics conference now brings more than 2,200 people from hundreds of sports, leagues, teams and schools to one of Boston’s biggest convention centers.

As the gathering has grown, the field has transitioned into the mainstream, taking over the front office and corner office of teams and leagues and media companies.

The topics, too, have shifted.