Sports and Entertainment


Rob Cranston

CANA Advisors, LLC

Sports Analytics: The Perfect Storm Of Technology, Data & Analytics

SportVU cameras in the rafters of NBA arenas. Statcast cameras and radars in every Major League Baseball stadium. Microsoft Surface 3 tablets in the hands of every NFL coach and many of the players on the sidelines. Heart rate monitors, G-Force detectors, and GPS devices on every soccer player during practice. An explosion of technology and data has occurred in sports over the past five years. How can sports analytics leverage these technologies and data to gain a competitive advantage? Where are the biggest opportunities to apply analytics to sports? Sports organizations are businesses but may have goals other than profit. For many teams winning championships is everything. For others, the objective is making a profit for owners through multiple revenue streams. How can analytics support these business goals? In this presentation we explore four areas where technology and data are both at a high level of maturity. We will cover each areas from the angles of business, technology and analytics.

Use of micro-geolocational technology and low cost technologies to provided data for advanced math modelingTransfer of analytics to the Major League Baseball Minor League organizationsExplore how stress on the battlefield relates to player performance in sportsProtection of sports analytics data.


Mr. Cranston is the founder and president of CANA Advisors, a veteran owned operations analytics and logistics consulting practice located in Northern Virginia. Mr. Cranston has over 22 years of military and commercial experience in strategy consulting, data analysis and systems operations, new acquisition planning, logistics analytics systems planning, lean manufacturing integration, new business startup planning, business process improvement integration, and large scale program management. Mr. Cranston graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and holds a Masters of Science in Finance from the Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business.


Brian Macdonald

Director of Hockey Analytics
Florida Panthers

Data Analysis In The Florida Panthers Hockey Organization

We give an overview of how data visualization and data analysis are used within the Florida Panthers organization and around the National Hockey League in a variety of different contexts. We discuss how analytics can be used to assist an NHL team’s front office, coaching staff, and scouting department. We also discuss the kinds of data we encounter on the business side of the organization in departments like sales and marketing.


Brian Macdonald is in his second season as the Panthers Director of Hockey Analytics. He previously spent six years as an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at West Point. While at West Point, his research interests included using mathematics and statistics for the purposes of player evaluation and decision-making in sports, and especially in hockey. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette College, Easton, PA, and a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.



Haining Yu

Manager, Decision Science, Department of Revenue Management & Analytics
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Learn To Draft: Selecting Young Sports Talent Using Machine Learning

Many professional sports leagues select young talent from draft. Smart draft picks lead to championships and cherished memories by fans. How to find the next star and avoid busts is, however, a challenging problem. Models have been developed to estimate the value of each player; algorithms have been designed to maximize team benefit. This talk explores the draft process from a machine learning perspective. We explore opportunities to quantify the challenges faced by the team decision makers, and develop draft strategies that grows smarter over time.


Haining Yu has been with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts since 2008 and is Manager Decision Science within Department of Revenue Management & Analytics. His research interests include media analytics, revenue management, and machine learning. He holds a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Boston University.