It is an immutable law of the universe, or anyway the parts of the universe that exist inside medium-to-large hotels and convention centers: anything sufficiently big will eventually come to resemble a job fair. Whatever edification or entertainment made up the event's original purpose, there is a point at which sheer size guarantees that it will attain sufficient velocity to slip those surly bonds and become a place where a bunch of college guys named Tyler give out resumes. This is not anyone's fault, really—not the event or its organizers or its ostensible topic or even of all those eager Tylers. It's just a thing that happens.
And it has happened to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT, for no reason other than it became big enough to exert that rote gravitational pull on all those Tylers. They roll up in great pale, male drifts to attend panels and give and receive papers about various sports-adjacent topics, they attend speed-networking events and less speedy networking events, they exchange resumes and pursue entry-level jobs, and they are unbidden in all of it; they do all this in the same way that waves wind up on beaches. There's an argument to be had about whether this was always the future of an event designed for people as fascinated by the parsing and quantifying and marketing of sports as by those game's ruder and more immediate pleasures, but it's not a terribly interesting argument to be honest and at any rate Sloan is now just what it is.
Which, as it happens, is still an interesting enough event, depending on how interesting you find that sort of thing. It is, inarguably, a place where smart people speak about things that are, again, either interesting to you or not. The choke points of the conference—the limits of its worldview, the inevitable intrusion of brands, the obscurity and obfuscation that is inherent where proprietary data and methods are involved—are not new, or probably going anywhere. All of which means that, if you had wanted to, you could have written your own fake version of the event's 2017 agenda.
We didn't quite want to do that, because why would anyone want to do that. So instead we just made it into a quiz. Below this photo of Sloan Conference co-founder Daryl Morey looking resigned is a list of nine actual events/panels/things that are on that calendar, and nine that we made up. See if you can figure out which is which.
1. fWAR, What It Is Good For
2. Investing in a Four-Letter Word that Starts with "D"
3. Scrapes Of Wrath: How Deep Data Scraping Can Prevent In-Stadium Fan Violence
4. Football Analytics: Please Stop Punting
5. Why Do Marketing Partnerships End? Evidence From Global Sport Sponsorships
6. Team Followback: Team Account Best Practices In The Age Of Trump
7. Moneymind: Overcoming Cognitive Bias
8. The EAGLE has Landed: RealTime Win Probabilities in Men's Major Golf Tournaments
9. Is It A Shame About Rays? The 2016 Tampa Bay Rays As Beta Test
10. Glove, Actually: Towards A More Comprehensive Fielding Metric
11. Two Is More Than Three: Byron Scott's Quiet Revolution In Arithmetic Praxis
12. Maxing Out & Getting Personal
13. Bottomless ShRIMP: Unlocking The Power of Synthesized Relationally Intuitive Modeling and Prediction
14. Fan Data Deluge Presented By Ticketmaster
15. Data Driven Ghosting: Using Deep Imitation Learning
16. Motion Capture Suit LARP Session Presented By Steam
17. Time For Some Game Theory
18. Drone Demonstration
The answers can be found under this photo of Juan Uribe thinking about advanced statistical analysis.
Real: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 18
Not Yet Real: 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17