SSAC attracts a wide spectrum of folks, from fan bloggers to top sports franchise executives. (New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Red Sox, and English Premiere League soccer, to name just a few.) Organizers stream it live to the Internet and plenty of reporters attend each panel, but discussions still feel candid and offer direct advice to the conference's significant following of MBAs and amateur researchers hoping to break into the sports business.
Some consider Gladwell's writing a strike against good analytics, since he often combines factors that hold a tenuous relationship to each other, instead of solid case studies. I think Malcolm moderated the kickoff panel deftly, as a mix of sports folks discussed the theory that mastering a skill requires 10,000+ hours of dedicated practice. His takeaway quote: "A lot of what we call talent is the desire to practice."
I shot this video (moderated by journalist Andrea Kremer) to give a flavor of conference participants and topics. Panel discussion moved quickly to The Decision, a widely criticized (and hugely watched) ESPN show that announced--after an hour of fawning--LeBron James' choice to sign with the Miami Heat. (John Walsh clearly shows mixed feelings, but would make the same decision if given a second chance.)
I also gave away a bunch of baseball cards at the conference, mostly to the researchers and small businesses looking for an industry toehold. One big hat-tip to Carl Crawford Cards, who sent me this signed 1950 Bowman Virgil Trucks in 2009--that card's now in the hands of esteemed baseball writer Rob Neyer.
ADDENDUM: I enjoy giving away cards as a gesture of support to other baseball fans, collectors, and writers. Trucks turned up in Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends and Rob also mentioned his remarkable 1952 season in a column, wherein Virgil went 5-19 but hurled a pair of no-hitters; find that recollection at CBS Interactive. My 1950 Bowman card felt like a good match and Rob looked happy to have it (compared to, say, Yuniesky Betancourt). He joked it'd join a "burgeoning Tigers collection," alongside a signed Hank Greenberg picture gifted not long before. That's great to hear--but what Detroit tribute would be complete without Don Mossi?
|"Just flew back from Boston--and boy are my ears tired."|