First of its Kind Conference Defining the Role of Mathematical and Statistical Analysis in Sports
18th December, 2018: XLRI- Xavier School of Management recently organised the1st-ever ‘MathSport Asia 2018’ Conclave from 10th – 12th December, 2018. The three-day long conference held at XLRI Campus, Jamshedpur showcased research related to mathematical modelling in sports is first of its kind to be held in India.
‘MathSport Asia 2018’ is the inaugural conference of a series of biennial conferences that will be held across Asia, under the aegis of MathSport Asia – a group of academicians and practitioners interested in the promotion and development of the application of mathematics, statistics and computing in sports in Asia.
The conference was participated by leading researchers in the field of sports analytics like, Prof. Tim Swartz of Simon Fraser University, Canada; Prof. Steven Stern of Bond University, Australia; Prof. Dries Goossens of Ghent University, Belgiumand Prof. Nobuyoshi Hirotsu of Juntendo University, Japan and practitioners from the field of sports analysis like Mr Kokum Weeratunga from Victoria University/ Tennis Australia, Mr. Ramakrishnan, S from Sportsmechanics India Pvt Ltd, Mr. Gaurav Khilari from Jamshedpur Football Club, Mr. Amit Kini from Sportzinteractive and Mr. Sanjog Gupta from Star Sports as speakers.
The three-day long conference had experts discuss on various topics like –Mathematical Models in Sports; Performance Measures and Models; Optimization in Sports; Statistics and Probability Models; Match Outcome Models;, Competitive Strategy; Game Theoretical Models; Optimal Tournament Design and Scheduling; Decision Support Systems; Analysis of Rules and Adjudication; Econometric Modeling of Sports; Analysis of Sporting Technologies; Mathematics Education and Sport; Computationally Intensive Methods; Financial Valuation in Sports; E-sports (gaming) and Betting and Sports.
The event kick-started with the inaugural session, where delivering the Welcome Address, Fr. E. Abraham S.J., Director, XLRI said, “Sports in India is both big business and democracy in action. Cricket, football, hockey and recently kabaddi have become a craze generating large revenues. Mathematics on the other hand impacts our daily life and fosters the development of new techniques to solve problems for individuals, businesses, and governments. Mathematics also plays a large role in the efficacy of sports. Coaches across sports are constantly trying to find ways to get the most out of their athletes, and the most ingenious coaches turn to mathematics for help. One of the earliest and most successful applications of algorithmic thinking has been in professional sports. Our professors of XLRI have started this very unique MathSport Asia 2018, the first of its kind in Asia. It was heartening for us to see an overwhelming response to MathSport Asia from around the globe.”
At the session, explaining the journey how Mathsport was brought to Asia and directly to XLRI Jamshedpur, Dr. Uday Damodaran, Professor, XLRI and Conference Chairsaid, “Asia, the largest and most populous continent on Earth, has a long tradition of sports. Traditional Asian Sports like wrestling and archery survive even today in forms unchanged over centuries. The globalization of sport has brought new sports, coaching techniques and methods to the continent. MathSport Asia seeks to play the role of a catalyst in encouraging the use of Mathematical and Statistical Analysis in Sports in Asia by organizing Conferences and Workshops, by encouraging research in the area and facilitating its dissemination. MathSport Asia will also seek to promote the teaching of mathematics and statistics using sports. Despite being the first conference of its type, the response we received was overwhelming.”
The first keynote speaker on the Day 1, Prof. Tim Swartz of Simon Fraser University, Canada discussed about his contribution in sports analytics over the last 20+ years; which was followed by the technical sessions where researchers from different parts of India and abroad presented papers on mathematical applications in sports like football, tennis, chess, cricket and even on e-sports. A question answer session was held with Jamshedpur Football Club and former Australian World Cup/ EPL great Tim Cahill. While answering the questions of the researchers, he explained about the role of analytics in football.
The speaker for the next session was Prof. Steven Stern of Bond University, Australia. Prof. Stern is the current custodian of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method used in cricket. He gave a presentation on rescheduling targets in truncated matches.
The Practitioners’ Session in the evening, titled ‘Sports Live’ had professionals talking sports analysis. At the session, presentations were by Mr. Amey Kolekar of High Performance Centre (HPC) of Tata Steel Sports Academy and Mr. Gaurav Khilari,Video Analyst, Jamshedpur Football Club. The day’s events concluded with stadium visit to the Tata Steel Sports complex.
The Second Day’s events comprised of Plenary Sessions by Prof. Dries Goossens of Ghent University of Belgium, who talked on scheduling of Belgian soccer league; and Prof. Nobuyoshi Hirotsu of Juntendo university of Japan. He delivered a talk on applying game theory in different sports.
The Technical Sessions, where researchers from around the globe presented research papers and discussed on sports like cricket, football, cycling, fan engagement in social media, athletics, rugby etc.; was followed by a Talk Session by Mr. Ramakishan, CEO, Sportsmechanics India Pvt. Ltd., the first person who brought Maths to Sports in India. He delivered talk on “Birth and Growth of Sports Technology and Analytics in India”. The session was followed by a presentation by Mr. Amit Kini of Sportzinteractive on Fan Engagement in sports.
The concluding event of the day was a demonstration of “Sekkor” – an indigenous tribal game of Jharkhand.
The Day 3 of the conference commenced with a Plenary Talk by Kokum Weeratunga, Data Scientist, Game Insight Group (GIG), Victoria University, Australia and Tennis Australia where he shared how practitioners use data analytics to come up with a prescription that can be helpful is strategy formation in different sports. The Second Plenary Talk Session of the day was delivered by Mr. Sanjog Gupta of Star Sports, where he explained how sports analytics has changed the way in which sports is presented before TV audience especially with reference to cricket.
In the Technical Sessions, researchers brainstormed in discussions and presented research papers on mathematical application in sports like Cricket, netball, tennis, European Football etc. The event concluded with a visit to JRD Tata Sports Complex for Indian Super League Soccer Match.