Fridays from the Frontline: Sloan and Sports
The MIT Sloan School of Management has long been a bastion for the intersection of sports, business, and data analytics. Their Sports Analytics Conference, which was just held for the thirteenth year in a row, is a forum for industry professionals and students to learn about the global sports industry. The two-day event includes a research paper competition, numerous competitive advantage panels, startup trade show competitions, workshops and more.
Current Sloan MBA candidate and former Deloitte management consultant (and college baseball player), Jason Rehhaut, took to the Sloan blog to discuss his experience as part of the Organizing Committee for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
The following piece has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the MIT Sloan blog.
Sloan and Sports
by Jason Rehhaut MBA ’20
“What do you think about the Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies?” I asked Mike Petriello, current Stats Analyst for Major League Baseball and podcast host and former writer for baseball analytics website Fangraphs.com.
This is why I signed up to be part of the Organizing Committee for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. An avid reader of Fangraphs since college, I loved the quantitative analysis of sports, especially baseball. With this opportunity, I was able to geek out with someone whose views I respected and share a room with the likes of Adam Silver, Jeannie Buss, Paul Pierce, and Michael Lewis.
As a former auditor and management consultant with Deloitte for 6 years, my decision to attend business school was not an easy one. I had great momentum in my job as a Senior Consultant, yet I knew I wanted to shore up skills I found lacking in my toolbox. I sought a general management business school experience to supplement my liberal arts undergraduate education that incorporated a quantitative and analytical focus. Additionally, because I considered sports fandom my side job, I longed for the opportunity to break into the sports industry and turn my “side job” into a full-time career.
When I made the decision to apply to business school, Sloan was number one on list. It checked the box for the type of education and experiences I was searching for. With a rich alumni base in sports and an easy opportunity to make connections in the industry through the conference, I knew Sloan would be the right platform to jump-start the process.
I began my quest to be an Organizing Committee member as soon as I stepped foot on campus. I met with multiple second year students, some of whom were on the Leadership Team this year and some who were not, to discuss their experiences and determine how to get involved. These conversations helped me steer my organizing committee application in some ways I was not expecting, and I ended up being chosen as a member of the Content Team.
Though there are multiple ways to get involved with the Conference, my specific responsibilities included owning two panels and co-leading the Competitive Advantage (“CA”) talks. There are roughly forty of these CAs over the two-day Conference. Each one consisting of a 25 minute deep dive into one particular topic. One individual working for a team, league, or company in the sports industry presents. As a reference point, the VP of Strategy for a Major League Baseball team presented his analysis of the types of social media posts that drive fan engagement across multiple social media platforms. The Chief Operating Office of another Major League Baseball team reviewed the market research performed that led to the development of his team’s membership-based season ticket program. In my role, I brainstormed potential topics and coordinated with about twenty different speakers, including the two above, working across various sports entities from the planning stages through the end of the Conference. These interactions not only helped me develop organic relationships with some of the speakers that still continue to this day but also helped me learn more about the industry that I used in my internship search.
I was also able to leverage my role on the Organizing Committee to set up meetings with various professionals across different teams and leagues during the Conference. The purpose of these meetings ranged from reconnecting with those I had spoken with in the past to learning more about how different teams and leagues are tackling their problems all the way to discussing potential internship opportunities. All of the meetings were a success in that I developed a new connection and learned something new about the industry. One meeting in particular ultimately led to my summer internship, which consists of me assisting Major League Baseball with their content strategy.
All in all, my time working on and attending the Conference was very similar to my time at Sloan in general. The Conference exceeded my expectations in every way imaginable, and I am looking forward to co-leading it next year!