It's too bad Fire Joe Morgan has been relegated to the internet mausoleum, because they would be having a field day with the rantings of noted Boston Globe curmudgeon Dan Shaughnessy. The longtime arch-nemesis of basement-dwelling blog boys has come out swinging against… the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference?
According to Dan Shaughnessy, things like logic, math, and scientific advancements in the way in which we understand sports are still scary. Very scary. And the Sloan Conference is all part of a vast conspiracy that seeks to turn sports into Dungeons & Dragons…
"Information is good. Every sports team can benefit from data. But why do I feel like there are people who want to erase all scouting and experience from sports? The eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was held at the Hynes Convention Center last week and drew a raft of A-listers from the world of sports. Owners, general managers, and even some ballplayers and ex-ballplayers are knee-deep in the data.
But can we just stop the madness and acknowledge that there are some things in sports that never will be quantifiable? And I’m not just talking about heart, character, makeup, leadership, and ability to play hurt and perform under pressure."
Analytics conference where very smart people discuss and debate very interesting statistical innovations… BAD
THE WILL TO WIN conference where people get to argue one on one with Hawk Harrelson about WHO JUST WANTS IT MORE…. GOOD!
Alas, the biggest evil in sports according to Dan Shaughnessy, are, I kid you not, "sports trekkies" that are sapping all the fun out of sports.
"Must all the intangibles be sucked from our games until all that is left is spreadsheets and blinking computer screens? Sports trekkies have made significant strides and teams are better for having the information, but it’s still OK to admit that there always will be things in sports that cannot be measured. These are games played by humans. That’s why it’s fun."
Sports trekkies. Yes, that's a dismissive line used by a sports columnist in 2014. That's rich, rich indeed. I'm sure everyone left Sloan and went straight to the Comic Con next door and then they went back home to their mom's basements to play World of Warcraft for seven straight hours and write on online message boards about plot holes in Sharknado.
Nobody in their right mind wants to completely eliminate intangibles from sports and replace human beings with robots. This kind of argument has no basis in reality and creates opposition where there doesn't have to be. Dan Shaughnessy is fighting a war that simply doesn't exist. Of course there are things that can't be measured, but why in the world wouldn't you want to measure everything that you could to try to gain an advangage over the competition? Why do we have to live in the world of false equivalencies where "smarter = less fun"?
The biggest complaint from the old guard is that the new school way of thinking is trying to remove all kinds of emotion or intangible aspect from the game. There's a word for this – paranoia.
So what's the best way to combat the analytics movement? Calling people "sports trekkies." Also, this…