Archive for March, 2013

2013Mar 22

St. SPADdy’s Day…the Legend Continues

SSD_Group copyBy SPAD Blogger Benoit Roy

Because it’s the Cup!

The hockey proverb is synonymous with spring weather, the end of a beloved NHL season, and of course intense hockey.  It brings back memories of 2008 when we watched Sidney Crosby play Detroit for the second year and defeat them to finally lift Lord Stanley.  It’s also a reminder of why we stay up late to watch every player on the ice skate with the Cup after their team’s 16th win.  And for SPAD students it bears similar resemblance, but we don’t chase Lord Stanley’s mug and we certainly don’t receive the same bonuses for achieving that feat.  Instead, we chase St. SPADdy’s Cup – the prize for a group of individuals who are proud to call themselves SPAD students, who are brave enough to battle the unpredictable Sudbury March weather, and who, like most SPAD students, have an incredible passion for our program.  St. SPADdy’s Day is now dedicated to ball hockey, consuming some great Canadian beverages, and a day off from the dullness of the late semester grind.  The team that successfully accomplishes all three of these objectives earns their right to call themselves the winners of the St. SPADdy’s Cup.  It’s not quite the two-month quest for Lord Stanley, but it certainly comes close.

SPAD’s annual springtime tradition is five years in the making, and each year it only gets better.  It began in March of 2009 when SPAD students were given the task of preparing for one of Dr. Church’s first-year midterms.  Unfortunately, that meant studying through St. Patrick’s Day.  These students surely took matters into their own hands, and created the new and better holiday that we now call St. SPADdy’s Day which displays much less green and much more blue and gold.  This year’s St. SPADdy’s Day was held on March 18 and played host to some of SPAD’s best and brightest.  Scott Rodgers and Cameron Brooks sported SPAD Wear as usual, but they also started the day off with a blue and gold pancake breakfast for all SPAD students.  They also fired up the SPAD barbeque to keep everyone fueled throughout the festivities.  SPAD Student Council Secretary, Brianne Pankoff shares her thoughts about SPAD’s most spirited day: “It’s a fun tradition that was created by SPAD students and its great to see everyone from every year come out, especially those from second and first years who may not have participated before.  Everyone got into the spirit of St. SPADdy’s despite the cold and had a great time celebrating the best program in the world.”  Be sure to check out a video recap of this year’s event on the SPADBlog YouTube channel.

SSD_Winners copyDuring the events of St. SPADdy’s Day we battle the elements, we battle each other, and we battle what’s remaining in our system from the previous night, and it started with a battle against Dr. Church five years ago.  We sacrifice a day usually spent working on end of term assignments, studying, or to work our real jobs to endure what most Laurentian students would never do on a lazy Sunday or Monday.  We earn our stripes and call ourselves true SPADians, and we celebrate like our fore-SPADians intended it.  And some of us don’t even shave in the fight for St. SPADdy’s Cup… in true Canadian fashion.  You may ask, why do we do all of this? Why do we put the interests of St. SPADdy ahead of our own? Well… because it’s the Cup.

History was certainly made on March 18, 2013.

2013Mar 15

SPAD Takes a Grade 3 Gym Class Favourite to New Heights.

Dodgeball ActionBy SPAD Blogger Brianne Pankoff

After another “eventful” year, SPAD hosted its final campus event this past Friday at the Ben Avery Gymnasium in the first ever LU Dodgeball Tournament presented by the SGA/AGE. Seven teams dodged, ducked, dipped, dove, and dodged their way throughout the afternoon to win Blue Jays vs. Red Sox tickets. Participants stayed fed and energized with pizza from Topper’s Pizza and free Red Bull throughout the day. For those of you who haven’t seen Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller:


  • The game begins with every player on both teams at opposite ends of the court on their stomachs, when the whistle blows players run to the middle to gain possession of the 6 dodgeballs
  • The object of the game is to eliminate all opposing players by getting them “OUT”. This may be done by either hitting an opposing player with a LIVE thrown ball below the shoulders or catching a LIVE ball thrown by your opponent before it touches the ground.
  • If a player catches a live ball thrown out by the other team, the thrower is out and the team who caught it gets to bring an out player back in the game
  • The first team to legally eliminate all opposing players will be declared the winner!
Inaugural LU Dodgeball Champions.

Inaugural LU Dodgeball Champions.

Cross-program competition included two huge upsets where “Dusty Russ & the Boys ft. Funbags” came up with another win for the year over the 3rd year super-star team “To Catch a Dodgeball” despite signing dodgeball legend Connor “The White Knight” Stevens. The third years redeemed themselves with a victory over the eventual runners-up, 4th year SPAD Students “Chrysler Dodgeball Jeep Clown Punchers”. In the end, SPED team “Kill Her” were declared dodgeball champions of Laurentian University and took home the grand prize and inaugural title.  The organizing committee of Jonathan Coate, Vinay Mistry, Johan Emir, and Ronak Ahluwalia would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: SGA/AGE, Topper’s Pizza, Crocodile Printing and Signs, Gloria’s Restaurant, Deluxe Hamburgers, and Vrab’s Independent Grocer.

Inaugural LU Dodgeball Runner-ups.

Inaugural LU Dodgeball Runner-ups.

For those of you who were unable to catch the tournament on ESPN 8 “The Ocho”, check out the latest episode of the SPADVlog here for the highlight reel and game video of the first ever LU Dodgeball Tournament!

2013Mar 14

SPAD Professor Profile: Dr. Ann Pegoraro

Aus1 copyBy SPAD Blogger Cameron Brooks

For most professors, what they do in the classroom is only a small fraction of their job. Teaching is less than half of their job, as research and administration are other duties that also take up much of their time. In order to allow professors extra time for research projects and professional development, every couple of years they are given the opportunity to spend some time away from the classroom. This sabbatical is usually used to get some research done and have some time to relax but, much like the SPAD program itself, our professors are a little different than most. Over the last several months, SPAD’s own Dr. Ann Pegoraro has been using up all her saved Air Miles travelling around the world to broaden her already extensive knowledge on the sport industry. Dr. Pegoraro has been to some amazing places and had some great experiences, and we were lucky enough to get to talk to her about what she has been able to do on her travels.

Q: Where have you travelled to (countries, schools, sports organizations, etc.) over the last couple of months?

A: Well I have traveled a lot since September. I started out with some short trips in North America, first to the University of New Haven in Connecticut to finalize our partnership agreement with the sport management program there. This partnership focuses on sharing of student internships across borders and building future opportunities for students from both programs. I then spent some time on the west coast at the University of California – Long Beach. Here I primarily met with the Director of the Sport Management program to discuss their Masters in Sport Management and the potential for student exchanges at the undergraduate level.

In November, I embarked on travel a bit further abroad, heading to Australia and New Zealand where I again met with sport management programs at Griffith University in Australia and the University of Otago in New Zealand. I also attended the SMAANZ Conference, a sport management academic conference hosted by the University of Technology in Sydney where I presented some of my research work on Twitter and Facebook use in sport.  Currently I am spending four months in Fort Myers Florida where I am mostly doing some research writing (and avoiding winter) but I am looking forward to meeting up with the 4th Year Class for their Consulting Trip to Miami in March.

Q: What have you been able to teach to others during your sabbatical?

A: I am not sure I have been teaching per se, as it has been more like sharing of ideas. It was great to learn what other sport management programs are doing both in the US and Australia. I was able to learn more about their approach and in turn shared a lot of the unique things we do in SPAD. Overall, I can say that everyone I have met is extremely impressed with the hands on and industry relevant learning that occurs in our program, and I am sure many will start to replicate it for their programs. Of interest to most is the 4th year consulting trip, as none of the programs I visited have such a course in their program. Of course there were also some unique approaches taken by these other programs that I hope we can incorporate into SPAD to make the student experience even better.

Q: In turn, what kind of knowledge of the sport industry have you gained over this time? 

A: I have had the good fortune to attend sporting events on almost all of my trips so far. I have been to WNBA games in Los Angeles, NFL in New England, NHL in Florida, Spring Training in Florida and will be attending the NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans in April.  Besides being a sport fan, attending these varied events provides an excellent perspective to bring into the classroom and to my research. I also had the good fortune to meet individuals from the WNBL in Australia and discuss the possibility of future research work. I have learned interesting facts about how sport is organized in Australia. For example, the country does not have a university sport system and most sport is organized outside of school, through clubs. This leads to a very different path to professional sport. I must also say, I was sad that my visit to Australia did not occur when the Aussie Rules Football was in season as that is one sport I would have loved to see live.

Q: Of this knowledge, which do you think will be most important for SPAD students to learn?

A: Everywhere I went, the same message was evident, one of the keys to success in sport business is networking. Networking is what got me to visit Australia and see a whole new area of the world, and it is what provides most of the opportunities you will receive. Other knowledge that I learned and hope to pass on came from an excellent keynote lecture by Dr. George Foster from Stanford University and several panel discussions at the SMAANZ conference. Rather than give it all away on the blog, I will save some of this good stuff for the classroom next year.

Panthers copyQ: Coming back after a full year off, what are you most excited for looking to the 2013-2014 school year?

A: That is a great question, and a hard one to answer, as I am excited about so many things for next year. I will be excited to be back in the classroom, to share what I have learned and to interact with SPAD students again. I will be excited to meet our new incoming class, to see where the 4th year trip is going and to help build on the student success at the MIT Sloan Sport Analytics conference this year. I think I will just be excited to be back in SPAD fulltime again.

It’s clear that members of the SPAD program will do everything they can to quench their thirst for more knowledge of the sport industry. Dr. Pegoraro’s dedication to, and passion for, sport and knowledge will be further benefits for students to whom she can pass along what she continues to learn. We hope Dr. Pegoraro has an amazing time on the rest of her travels and we look forward to seeing her next September.

2013Mar 7

SPAD @ MIT: Hangin’ with the Who’s Who in Sports

MIT LogoBy SPAD Blogger Benoit Roy

The stalwarts of sports analytics at Laurentian University took their interest in the emerging topic to Boston for the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on March 1-2.  The all-SPAD team of Darby Reive, Matt Jackowetz, and Katarina Schwabe competed in the undergraduate case competition and pitched their MLB Advanced Media in-game mobile application to MLB executives against formidable opponents, Queen’s University and Ohio University.  Their solution is an addition to the existing MLB in-game application whereby attendees can compete in a live fantasy game and also allows the user to transform the players’ entry tracks with their new music add-on.  At the concluding panel on Saturday evening, it was announced that Laurentian University finished 2nd at this year’s undergraduate case competition!  Considering the breadth of attendees this year and magnitude of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, this is truly a great accomplishment for these SPAD students who bettered many other prominent schools.  To say that they were overwhelmed with the result at this prestigious and high profile event is an understatement.

“Presenting at a conference that attracts thousands of industry professionals and students is an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often.  Matt, Katarina and I couldn’t have been happier with the results of our hard work and the rewarding experience we shared at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference,” states Darby.  The School of Sports Administration extends its many congratulations to the three students who put in a tremendous effort at this year’s conference.

Fortunately, Darby, Matt, and Kat also had an opportunity to shift their focus to the weekend’s many enlightening panels and research papers following their presentation.  This year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference delivered an industry and academic perspective of current sports analytics practices and a glance into the future of the field.  At the event were some high profile figures in popular sports culture, as Darby describes, “You can’t duplicate the feeling of walking down a hallway and seeing Mark Cuban intimidate someone, and continuing down the same hallway and seeing Darren Rovell’s head buried in his phone.”  Another common face at the conference, Brian Burke (albeit, misplaced) had plenty to say about sports analytics much to the entertainment of some and dismay of others.  “Hockey isn’t fun… it’s only fun if you win, and that’s why we’re here.”  Even an old dog in sports management knows that sports analytics is perhaps one of the most illuminating advancements both on and off the field by way of statistics and econometrics.  The common motif among the panelists was the pervasive difficulty of conforming the ideas of old school sports executives to the young, generally non-athletic analysts (as described by these old-school executives).  Analysts are obviously fanatical about sports, but its difficult to alter the course of many decades of coaching, managing, and business operations.

MIT on stageA number of panels and research papers did catch the attention of the SPAD delegates and provided a number of great insights regarding the growing influence of advanced statistics in sport.  The first panel of the weekend titled “Revenge of the Nerds,” moderated by Moneyball author, Michael Lewis, featured a collection of speakers including Dallas Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban and San Francisco 49ers COO, Paraag Marathe.  The panel discussed the growing prevalence of statistical models in sports and industry best practices.  One of these practices is the growing use of spatial tracking through the use of SportsVu technology in the NBA.  This technology allows researchers to track player movements on the court, where they take shots, and even where they are most effective defensively.  Dr. Kirk Goldsberry’s “The Dwight Effect” is a seminal paper regarding the effectiveness of the NBA’s top defenders.  In essence, the paper discussed how the league’s top shot blockers are not necessarily the best interior defenders evidenced by tracking which defensive players allow the least interior points from being scored (the area on the court where most shots are allowed).  Sports analytics can provide additional metrics to measure player performance such as those derived from spatial tracking, and this is just one example of where this subject in sport will progress.  In the end, however, it’s all about winning and SPAD has done so once again.