Analytics at Wharton
The Wharton Sports Business Summit Continues Its Winning Streak
As part of the 2022 Wharton Sports Business Summit, students, journalists, and faculty alike gathered in the auditorium-style classrooms at The Wharton School’s Huntsman Hall to hear from prominent sports voices, including Philadelphia 76ers player Tobias Harris, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner, Marc Lasry, and a parade of esteemed alumni currently working in sports.
Led by the Wharton Undergraduate Sports Business Club (WUSBC) and the Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative (WSABI), this year’s Summit marked a successful return to the in-person format it enjoyed prior to the pandemic, selling more than 275 tickets.
The Wharton Undergraduate Sports Business Club (WUSBC) aims to educate students on the world of sports business, build awareness of career and internship opportunities in the industry, and help students to reach those positions. On one of the most competitive campuses in the nation, WUSBC strives to be an inclusive and welcoming club, offering a great sense of community.
The daylong event began with a keynote address from Lasry before opening up to a wide range of sessions, covering everything from investment opportunities in sports to discussing data-driven insights with representatives from Philadelphia’s biggest sports teams. Each speaker related to their own journey in sports and offered advice to match.
Lasry also provided a glimpse into the rarified world of sports financing, regaling his failed attempts at NBA ownership before finally arriving at the Milwaukee Bucks, which by his estimation was the worst team in the league at the time of purchase. Since then, Lasry has helped transform the Bucks into a perennial powerhouse – they won an NBA championship in 2021, and their superstar forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has won multiple Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
As for the next billionaire sports owner, Lasry offered some pieces of wisdom. “Figure out what your weakness is,” he said. “I can’t make anybody in this room smarter. Ultimately, your level of intelligence is where it is…if you’re more of a marketing person, then become better at [analytics]. If you’re a book-smart person, take public speaking, take acting, so that you’re better with people.”
“Figure out what your weakness is…if you’re more of a marketing person, then become better at [analytics]. If you’re a book-smart person, take public speaking.”
– Marc Lasry, Co-Owner, Milwaukee Bucks
One of the Summit’s sessions in particular served as both a homecoming for former members of WUSBC and as a proof of concept for the club itself, as each alumni panelist has found recent and significant success in the world of sports. Recent graduates Eric Babitz, manager of baseball operations at the Milwaukee Brewers, Noah Klayman, business development manager at Draft Kings, Inc., Matt MacDonald, assistant general manager of the Long Island Nets, Carson Miller, managing consultant at IBM Sports & Entertainment, and Kelly Schrader, associate manager of global strategy & innovation at the NBA took the stage to share tips and insights for breaking into the industry.
Finally, the Summit concluded with “Lessons in Business and Life via Sports with Tobias Harris,” moderated by Eric Bradlow, K.P. Chao Professor of Marketing, and Vice Dean of Analytics at Wharton. In addition to being a max-contract player and perennial all-star consideration, Harris revealed the strides he’s made as an investor and businessman. He currently has investments in Neutral, a carbon-neutral milk brand with climate on their mind, and operates as a brand ambassador for a number of Crumbl Cookies locations.
For Harris, it’s not purely about the money. “I always look for the intent of what a company is doing,” he says. “I look at the person that’s running the operation, because at the end of the day, if I can’t look a person in the eye and say ‘I know this person is gonna work their tail off,’ I can’t get involved.” He further revealed his ambitions to one day start a school, where children can learn financial literacy and the power of analytics.
“I like analytics,” Harris said with a smile, and to the enthusiastic approval of Bradlow, “A lot. Analytics are important for your career and longevity…to stay on the court and help your team. I’m an efficient player because I look at analytics to find what shot works best for me. A lot of teams have adopted advanced analytics for the good of the game.”
For the numerous Philadelphia sports fans in attendance, there’s hope that Harris’ belief in analytics will help him find success not only in business, but as a member of the ever-aspirational Philadelphia 76ers.
Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative
The Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative is a leader in the rapidly growing fields of sports analytics and sports business, engaging both students and industry leaders.