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first_imgHaryana Environment Minister Vipul Goel on Tuesday said that the government, in an attempt to curb pollution, has directed local officials to report instances of stubble burning within 30 minutes. Gram sachivs and patwaris have been directed to bring such violations during the harvesting season to the notice of concerned Deputy Commissioners immediately.“In case they fail to do so without sufficient cause, it will be treated as dereliction of duty,” said Mr. Goel, while replying to a question during the ongoing budget session here. The Minister also informed that the Haryana State Pollution Control Board has engaged the Haryana Space Application Centre to monitor crop residue burning activities through satellite imagery on a daily basis.“Also SMS alerts regarding incidents of stubble burning are sent to the Deputy Commissioners, the agriculture department and HSPCB officers. Regular monitoring and review meetings are held at the government level to review the situation,” he said, adding that the regional officers of the HSPCB are submitting daily reports on the number of such incidents detected and the amount of penalty imposed and collected.last_img read more


first_imgSeven elephants were killed after coming in contact with sagging live electric wire in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district late Friday night.The incident took place near Kamalanga village in Dhenkanal. “We have received information about the death of seven elephants due to electrocution. Field officials are rushing to the spot to ascertain the circumstances under which the tragic incident had occurred,” Sudarshan Panda, Additional Principal Conservator of Forest, told The Hindu over phone, on Saturday.Forest department sources said a herd of 13 elephants were passing through the area. While seven succumbed to injuries, six elephants escaped.As per preliminary reports reaching here, the power line was being set up as part of laying of a new railway line. Bodies of seven elephants were lying scattered near a small water channel passing through vast stretches of agricultural land.Elephant movements in Dhenkanal are widespread. In the past, several electrocution deaths of elephant have been reported from the district. The district has also been identified as a critical area as far as man-elephant conflict is concerned.last_img read more


first_imgTagsTransfersOpinionAbout the authorChris BeattieShare the loveHave your say Christian Pulisic flop? Why the US whiz on outer at Chelseaby Chris Beattie23 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveCOMMENT: He can’t say he was never told. Christian Pulisic and his far from hoped for start at Chelsea. The advice now being relayed through the press is spot on. Well, at least some of it is…First, let’s put the fantasists to one side. There’s no anti-American bias at Cobham. And there’s no belief amongst the coaching staff, including manager Frank Lampard, that Pulisic is the wrong fit for his system. Such claims, as we’ve seen in recent days, is simply the stuff of mischief-making.Indeed, the opposite is true. Lampard and his backroom team know they have a potential world-beater on their hands. They know the ability Pulisic possesses. But they need the American to come out of his shell more. To stretch himself amongst his teammates and on the training the pitch. “He needs to fight for it”, as one Cobham source told this column a week ago.As mentioned, no-one doubts Pulisic’s ability inside Chelsea. Like us on the outside, they’ve already seen it in glimpses in preseason and the limited action Lampard has handed him thus far. And we say handed, as for the moment the consensus amongst those pushing the witches hats around is that Pulisic isn’t doing enough in training to warrant selection. And it’s not so much what he does in drills and bounce games – “he keeps it all nice and tidy” – but in his overall drive to get himself ahead of teammates currently occupying what should be his place. As Jurgen Klinsmann, the former USA coach, put it this week, Pulisic needs to get “nasty”.If Pulisic doesn’t have Klinsmann’s number, then you hope his father, Mark, can reach out to the German great and have him call his son. Klinsmann’s interview this week discussing Pulisic’s problems nailed it. He hit many of the points our source made last week. Not just the need for the 21 year-old to show a willingness to compete for his place, but also how he is in unchartered water. As we were told, this is the first time in Pulisic’s career where set expectations are waiting to be met. The staff at Chelsea understand this. They’ve seen it before. But it’s up to the player to cut loose from what he’s known.As Klinsmann says, “He’s a very special player, he’s tremendously talented, but this is a big step, because Borussia Dortmund was also basically the club where he got formed into a professional player.”He came out of the youth system there, he moved himself up, he had all the support within the club and now going to London…”We’d also add Pulisic’s international career to Klinsmann’s assessment. The German capped Pulisic at 17, with no great expectation. At that stage in his career, everything he achieved at senior level was a bonus. It was all about learning his craft, gaining experience. He was given the time and space to adjust to international football. To meet it’s demands. Just as he was with Dortmund.But now he’s in a very different environment. A reputation needs to be built. New relationships established. And a realisation must dawn that he’s not entitled to anything. No-one is going to give him a free pass. Or better yet, a free place in the manager’s XI.Klinsmann again: “He will go through a phase now where more and more he needs to bring his elbows out to fight himself through the system, at Chelsea it goes from game to game, week to week. “You’re basically in training, and you have to tell the coach: ‘I’m in, I’m going to start this game, you have to become nasty to make yourself a starter.”From what we know, Klinsmann and Lampard aren’t close. But the German was definitely helping Chelsea’s manager this week. Klinsmann essentially parrotting what Lampard had stated after leaving Pulisic on the bench for the home defeat to Valencia.”He’s shown some really good moments,” reasoned Lampard, “but what he has to do, as all the players have to, not just the wingers, is reach levels in training daily that make you sit up and go ‘here’s my team selection and that’s actually affected it, I have seen good stuff’. That’s the same for every player in the squad.”Training ground form and application is what makes Lampard tick. It’s what transformed a chubby, but talented, midfielder at West Ham, into a modern day great at Chelsea. Going through the motions. Doing just enough to get by. It just won’t survive within a Lampard-managed squad.Pulisic has been given some great advice this week. And he can make it at Chelsea – so long as he acts upon what Klinsmann says. last_img read more


first_imgzoomIllustration. Image Courtesy: PxHere under CC0 Creative Commons license Bermuda-based shipowner Ship Finance International Limited (SFL) invested USD 1.2 billion in new assets in 2018, continuing its fleet renewal efforts.As explained, these transactions added USD 1.3 billion in future contracted charter revenue.The company intends to seek further growth opportunities and maintains a strong liquidity position “in order to be able to act decisively.”“We believe the combination of a challenging banking market for many players and low asset prices will create significant opportunities for Ship Finance in finding investment opportunities with limited downside on asset values,” SFL said.SFL had a fleet of 86 vessels comprising tankers, bulkers, containerships and rigs at the end of 2018, with only one of the original tankers remaining.“We have continuously renewed and grown our portfolio and diversified our charter revenue backlog across multiple segments and counterparties. SFL has transformed from a pure vessel leasing company, serving one related party, to a multi-faceted organization with USD 3.8 billion in contracted future revenues,” Ole B. Hjertaker, CEO of Ship Finance Management AS, commented.SFL reported a net income of USD 3.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from the net income of USD 29.7 million seen a quarter earlier. The decrease was due to a USD 35.7 million non-cash impairment related to offshore supply vessels.On the other hand, total operating revenues were USD 118.6 million in Q4 2018, higher when compared to revenues of USD 111 million posted in Q3 2018.During the fourth quarter, the company delivered the third 10,600 TEU container vessel on long term charter to Maersk Line. SFL also acquired two 19,400 TEU container vessels on long term charters to MSC.The company concluded more than USD 840 million lease financings in Asia for eight container vessels in Q4 2018.At the end of the quarter, SFL had ten debt free vessels, with a combined charter free value of USD 200 million.last_img read more


first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – Cracking down on hate, abuse and online trolls is also hurting Twitter’s standing with investors.The company’s stock plunged Friday after it reported a decline in its monthly users and warned that the number could fall further in the coming months. The 20.5 per cent plunge comes one day after Facebook lost 19 per cent of its value in a single day.Twitter says it’s putting the long-term stability of its platform above user growth. That leaves investors seemingly unable to value what the biggest companies in the sector, which rely on their potential user reach, are worth.Twitter had 335 million monthly users in the quarter, below the 339 million Wall Street was expecting, and down slightly from 336 million in the first quarter. That overshadowed a strong monthly user growth of 3 per cent compared with the previous year.The company said its monthly user number could continue to fall in the “mid-single-digit millions” in the third quarter.While Friday was Twitter’s second-worst loss since it went public in November 2013, the stock has still doubled in value over the last 12 months.Long criticized for allowing bad behaviour to run rampant on its platform, Twitter has begun to crack down, banning accounts that violate its terms and making others less visible.Twitter is now attempting to rein in the worst offenders after years as one of the Wild West corners of the internet.At the same time, it must convince people it’s the go-to platform in social media, even though it is dwarfed right now by Facebook.Facebook has more than 2.23 billion users while its apps WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger each have over 1 billion.Twitter on Friday reiterated its efforts to “to invest in improving the health of the public conversation” on its platform, making the “long-term health” of its service a priority over short-term metrics such as user numbers.As part of these efforts, Twitter said that as of May, its systems identified and challenged more than 9 million accounts per week that are potentially spam or automated, up from 6.4 million in December 2017. The company has previously disclosed these numbers.A Washington Post report put the total number of suspended accounts in May and June at 70 million. The Associated Press also found that Twitter suspended 56 million such accounts in the last quarter of 2017. While Twitter maintains that most of these accounts were dormant and thus not counted in the monthly user figure, the company also warned that its cleanup efforts could affect its counted user base without giving specific numbers.“We want people to feel safe freely expressing themselves and have launched new tools to address problem behaviours that distort and distract from the public conversation,” CEO Jack Dorsey said in a prepared statement.Twitter’s market value dropped by more than $6 billion Friday, to around $26 billion. Investors still value Facebook at $503 billion. Facebook lost $119 billion in value on Thursday.Twitter’s second-quarter net income hit $100.1 million, after a loss last year during the same period. It’s the company’s third profit in a row, the third it has ever posted.Per-share, the San Francisco company’s net income was 13 cents, or 17 cents adjusted, in line with expectations, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.Revenue of $710.5 million, up 24 per cent and edging out expectations of $696 million._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TWTR at https://www.zacks.com/ap/TWTRlast_img read more


first_imgLONDON – The trade body representing British music warned Thursday that the industry’s financial fortunes, currently sky-high as a result of the popularity of the likes of Ed Sheeran, could be damaged in the event of a “bad Brexit deal.”The BPI, which has been championing the interests of big players such as Sony Music U.K. as well as more than 400 independent music companies for decades, said a failure to strike an adequate deal would prevent the industry becoming an “international calling card” in a post-Brexit world.“With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the U.K. as we forge new trading relationships, but only if our government supports us by ensuring a strong Brexit deal that enables artists to tour freely, robustly protects music rights, and prevents physical music products being impeded in transit,” said Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of BPI.Taylor’s warning came as the BPI reported booming British music exports last year, when they rose 12 per cent to 408.4 million pounds ($530 million). That’s the highest level since records began 18 years ago and means the total generated since 2000 is over 5 billion pounds.The BPI said U.K. artists accounted for one in every eight albums globally in 2017. And the world’s bestselling album was British in nine of the past thirteen years, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s “Divide.” Other British success stories in 2017 were Rag’n’Bone Man, whose debut album “Human” came in fourth, and Sam Smith’s “The Thrill of it All” at five.Revenue growth was particularly strong across Europe, up 29 per cent since 2015, with France doing particularly well. Europe remains the U.K.’s biggest export market for music, though the United States is the single biggest national market by a significant margin, accounting for more than 35 per cent of U.K. music earnings. Exports to China were also strong in 2017.Buoyant sales in Europe highlight the fact that British exporters are in a so-called “sweet spot” at the moment — British exporters have been able to benefit from the 15 per cent or so fall in the pound following the Brexit vote in June 2016 while still having full and unimpeded access to the European single market.With less than 30 weeks to go to Brexit, it’s still unclear how Britain will trade with the other 27 countries in the EU. Both sides have said they want to maintain smooth trade but the EU has insisted that Britain cannot continue to have the same sort of tariff-less access as it enjoys now if it doesn’t abide by the rules governing the single market, including the freedom of movement for people.last_img read more


first_imgEDMONTON, A.B. — The spring sitting of the Alberta legislature is set to begin, with the focus on pipelines and the economy.The session opens Thursday with a speech from the throne, and Government House Leader Brian Mason says the first order of business the following Monday is a debate on pipelines.Mason says all members of the legislature will be asked to vote on a government motion that makes it clear to the rest of Canada its support for Alberta’s efforts on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Alberta has been fighting with British Columbia over the pipeline, which has been approved by the federal government but has met resistance from the B.C. government.The opposition United Conservatives have already voiced support for getting Trans Mountain built, but have disagreed with how Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP is waging the fight.The centrepiece of the session comes March 22, when Finance Minister Joe Ceci delivers the fiscal 2018 budget.last_img read more


first_imgAlexandria — The family of a blogger whose death became a rallying cry in Egypt’s 2011 uprising called for the maximum jail term as a court readied to give its verdict Monday in the retrial of two policemen.Policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Suleiman are accused of torturing and killing Khaled Said in June 2010 after unlawfully arresting him at an Internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.An initial trial sentenced the defendants to seven years in jail in October 2011 after finding them guilty of unlawful arrest and excessive brutality. Egypt’s Court of Cassation ordered the retrial after the defendants appealed, while angry supporters of Said felt the sentence was too lenient.“We have asked for the maximum sentence, which is 15 years in prison,” Mahmud el-Bakri Atifi, lawyer for Said’s family, told AFP, adding that the earlier verdict was an “injustice”.“Egyptians must be reassured that the police offer them security and are not a threat to them.”Police initially said that Said choked to death after swallowing a packet of drugs.Medics, however, said he died of asphyxiation after being beaten, and that the packet of drugs was thrust in his mouth when he was unconscious.Pictures of Said’s badly marred face after his death spread on the Internet and his case became synonymous with police brutality under then president Hosni Mubarak.His death became a flashpoint between Mubarak’s government and opposition activists, who vented their anger on a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said”.It was on this page that one of the first calls was issued for the revolt which toppled Mubarak.Said’s supporters and opposition activists have often clashed with security forces, in particular during the trial hearings.last_img read more


In an article published Wednesday — “Was Lionel Messi Tired?” — we proposed that Messi’s sometimes-criticized “work rate” — the fact that he appears to cover less distance on the field per minute than just about any non-goalkeeper — might actually be an important part of what makes him as good as he is.It’s a counterintuitive possibility and would fly in the face of conventional wisdom, as well as decades of soccer coaching. But at the very least, it deserves to be considered.And this wouldn’t be the first time the conventional wisdom seemed lacking with regard to Messi.For example, Messi hardly ever uses “crossing passes” to set up other players. Such passes have traditionally been considered a cornerstone of soccer offense, and empirically they’re still the dominant method of delivering the ball into the penalty area. In the Opta play-by-play data set, about 42 percent of such deliveries are crosses, yet Messi has eschewed them as far back as our data goes (his comparable rate is less than 10 percent).Meanwhile, recent research suggests that crossing passes aren’t as good as people have long thought. Cursory analysis supports those findings: Non-cross passes into the penalty area seem to lead to goals slightly more often than crosses.But even if we assume the balance between crosses and not crosses was optimal, there would seem to be an even better reason why Messi doesn’t use them: comparative advantage. Although he’s good and productive when he uses crosses, he’s even better when he doesn’t. The following chart compares regular open-play (non-set-piece) passes into the penalty area by Messi and by everyone, from crosses and not-crosses:There’s this thing that everyone does that’s supposedly super-important. Except that it’s not as good as people think it is. And though Messi’s good at it, he’s better at something else. So he does that instead.Just how rare is it to cross so little?This sort of thing is style-dependent. Barcelona runs a more possession-based offense (crosses are the favored technique of the up-down, attacking-style soccer traditionally favored by England), yet Barca players other than Messi use crosses to deliver to the penalty area about 30 percent of the time — much, much closer to the 42 percent average of teams in the big five soccer leagues than to Messi’s rate.Messi also plays in the center above the box, which means he’s in position to cross less often. But this is true of many players, and Messi makes more non-cross passes and fewer cross passes (relatively) than anyone (including even midfielders):Much like how Messi “takes on” more defenders than anyone — because he’s better at it than anyone — on non-cross passes into the penalty area, Messi has an edge he likes, so he hammers it and hammers it and hammers it. read more


Friday, Feb 27, 3:28 p.m.The panel: “Commissioner’s Perspective: 1 on 1 with Rob Manfred”The panelists: Brian Kenny, Rob ManfredRob Manfred has a long history with Major League Baseball. And Major League Baseball has long tried to avoid letting its history weigh it down. In a wide-ranging interview at Sloan on Friday, one month into his tenure as league commissioner, Manfred sounded like a man trying to make sense of how to reform a game without hollowing it out.A few days ago, Manfred said that there was a universe in which baseball could shave eight games off its regular-season schedule “sometime down the road.” A reduction in the current 162-game schedule could make the sport’s playoff timing a little more flexible, and might increase fan interest in each game. At Sloan, Manfred said he chose the 154-game mark because it would take the majors “back to a number that’s already in our record books.” Could he see MLB going even lower, to 150? No, because then “you’re going to go have a record book with 150, 154, 162 …” Only in baseball, a sport hallowed enough to get the Ken Burns treatment, could the record book be more important than the ledger. Integrity is paramount. (Or as Manfred, who has worked for the league for nearly two decades, put it when talking about whether to reform gambling laws around sports betting: “Integrity, it’s Rule One.”)Yet this is a commissioner who clearly wants to find ways to change the game. Manfred has introduced rules to speed the pace of play, and said Friday he’s very happy with the replay system MLB added last year. He said that in the future — “past Rob Manfred” — the league could have a team outside North America, and before that, maybe even one in Mexico. Now that would be historic. — Chadwick Matlin Sunday, March 1 12:17 a.m.After what conference co-organizer Jessica Gelman said was a “heated discussion,” voters for the top research paper at Sloan reached a split decision and split the $30,000 prize pool between two papers. The winners:Who is Responsible for a Called Strike? by Joe Rosales and Scott SprattCounterpoints: Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn and Kirk GoldsberryRosales and Spratt, both of Baseball Info Solutions, presented work suggesting that pitch framing, which has traditionally rewarded most of the credit to catchers alone, is actually a function of three independent participants: the catcher, pitcher, and umpire.Franks, Miller, Bornn, and Goldsberry — all members of Harvard’s XY Hoops group — used player tracking data to quantify individual defensive play in the NBA. The academic version of this group’s paper has been accepted at the statistics journal Annals of Applied Statistics.The groups behind the winning papers each received $15,000 for their efforts. Additionally, Bornn and Goldsberry, along with co-authors Alex D’Amour and Dan Cervone, received the conference’s top poster prize of $1,000 for “Move or Die: How Ball Movement Creates Open Shots in the NBA.” — Mike Lopez Friday, Feb 27, 11:55 a.m.Daryl Morey has been as instrumental to the rise of the Sloan conference as he has been to the rise of the Houston Rockets. Morey, the general manager of the Rockets, has steered the team to third place in the Western conference — behind MVP-candidate James Harden, whom he acquired in a now-legendary 2012 trade — and helped start the Sloan conference in 2007. At Sloan on Friday, I boxed him out to ask a few questions about advanced basketball analytics, specifically player-tracking data from companies like STATS’ SportVU technology. While he can’t divulge the details of the Rockets’ private statistics, Morey’s remarks about the publicly available numbers are especially insightful because the Rockets are one of the most stats-savvy teams — not just in the NBA, but in all of sports. — Andrew FlowersAudio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/flowers_morey.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Saturday, Feb. 28 3:15 p.m.Will sports betting inevitably become legal in the U.S.? It sure seems like it.Momentum behind legalization has grown since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times in November 2014 explicitly endorsing legal sports gambling. The facade of professional sports leagues that oppose sports betting is beginning to crack. And it’s clear why: money.Silver estimated the market for illegal sports wagering is currently $400 billion per year, though it’s likely that figure is inflated. But even lower-end estimates of around $80 billion still represent a huge market. Sports betting is already enormous in Europe, Australia and many other regions. State governments want in because of the potential revenues.Professional sports leagues are intrigued because they see gambling interest as a ratings driver, much like fantasy sports have been. (And, coincidentally, daily fantasy sports sites – with cash prizes – bear an eerie resemblance to gambling anyway.) Gambling is already inherently analytical; but the appetite of stats-savvy fans for geeky coverage about odds is growing. Jeff Ma, a contributor to ESPN’s new sports-betting site, Chalk – said gambling analytics would meet the demand from those with a “high-brow” interest.But there are major risks to legalization. The revelations that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy owed gambling debts and bet on games he officiated was a reminder of the long, scandalous history of how gambling can challenge the integrity of sports. Here, too, analytics can help. Ryan Rodenberg, a professor at Florida State University, suggested statistical scrutiny of betting markets would combat fraud and fixing. Several private European firms already specialize in such analytics.The panelists were asked that if they had to bet on legalization sweeping the country, when it would happen. The lines offered by the panelists ranged from 2-to-10 years. Dan Spillane, the Assistant General Counsel for the NBA, didn’t offer a timeline, however. He just said “years, not months.” — Andrew Flowers Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:00 p.m.The session: “Analytics of the Tommy John Injury Epidemic”The speaker: Glenn FleisigWe’re in the midst of an epidemic of elbow injuries among major league pitchers. Twenty-five percent of current MLB pitchers have had an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (“Tommy John surgery”) and 15 percent of minor league pitchers have undergone the procedure. Over the last decade, the problem has trickled down to high school and little league players. In 1990, none of the baseball players coming to the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center clinic Tommy John surgery were kids. Today, one third of them are high school age or younger, said Fleisig, the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute.What’s to blame for the epidemic of torn elbow ligaments? Are more players getting hurt? Or are we just better at diagnosing these injuries? Are doctors more willing to do the procedure? Or are patients more eager to have it?The answer, said Fleisig, is all of the above. Some players assume they should go in for surgery at the first sign of elbow pain, just “to get it over,” but that’s the wrong attitude. Best case scenario, the surgery can return a player to the career trajectory he was on before he got injured, but it won’t improve performance and not every player makes it back to play, Fleisig said.About 80 percent of major league players who get Tommy John surgeries make it back to the mound, but only two thirds of those who undergo the procedure make it back and stay there.Most elbow ligament injuries occur due to overuse. During the middle part of the pitch when the elbow is held upright at a right angle, the joint experiences severe torque. “It’s like holding a string with five 12-pound bowling balls,” Fleisig said. (That’s why doping raises the risk of an elbow injury — “If you’re on the juice you’re making your muscles too strong for your tendons and ligaments to handle.”)There’s a common notion that curveballs are dangerous, but the research doesn’t bear that out, Fleisig said. “We expected the curveball to have more torque than the fastball, but it turns out it has less.”Four things determine which players get injured — biomechanics, how much a player pitches, training and recovery. “It’s not one of these things or the other, it’s all of them,” Fleisig said.Wear and tear on the elbow is one of the most important factors, and when Fleisig’s group followed a group of 500 kids over a ten-year period, they found that pitching more than 100 competitive innings more than tripled the risk of needing a Tommy John surgery. Likewise, more than 80 pitches per game quadrupled the risk of injury, and kids who pitched when fatigued had 36 times the risk of having surgery.In an effort to cut the rates of elbow injuries among young pitchers, Fleisig and his colleagues have teamed with Major League Baseball to create Pitch Smart, age-appropriate guidelines to avoid injury. Suggestions include limits on the number of pitches thrown and not pitching when fatigued. “The best computer we have is right here,” Fleisig told me, pointing to his head. — Christie Aschwanden Saturday, Feb. 28 4:05 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, 11:20 a.m. Friday, Feb 27, 12:21 p.m.The Panel: “Valuing Franchises: How Sports Teams Break the DCF”The Panelists: Lyle Ayes, Aswath Damodaran, Joe McNulty, Randy Vataha, Abe Madkour (moderator)The recent sales of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clippers for over $2 billion have opened up a new paradigm in sports franchise valuations. As shocking as the price of those transactions may have been, the mood at this Sloan panel was buoyant. In fact, panelists seemed to be most worried about prices getting so high that billionaires would be priced out of the market. As Lyle Ayes, managing director of the investment bank Evercore’s sports advisory practice said, “how many people can pay $4 billion for an asset?”Panelists thought the seemingly inexorable rise in franchise valuations was driven by the increasing value of media and content rights. Aswath Damodaran, an NYU professor who focuses on valuation (and FiveThirtyEight contributor), commented that across the entertainment industry, owning content is becoming king. Ayes cited the NBA’s massive new TV deal as evidence of this trend. He noted that advertisers put a large premium on live content like sports because viewers are relatively captive during the event. Interestingly, none of the panel members thought that a team’s performance had a large impact on valuation. The most important factor, according to the panel, was metro area population and GDP. The New York Knicks can command significantly more from their local TV rights for bad basketball than the San Antonio Spurs can command for good.Despite the increase in the real earnings of teams as media deals improve, panelists (with the exception of Ayes), broadly agreed that sports franchises still do not make sense as actual businesses. While they are relatively low-risk and uncorrelated with other potential investments, almost any analysis of the current cash flows — or lack thereof — will not find them to be great investments. As Damodaran noted, the supply of franchises is relatively fixed, while demand has been growing. The panelists did not see this dynamic changing any time soon. — John Ezekowitz Friday, Feb 27, 2:20 p.m.The panel: “Basketball Analytics: Push the Tempo”The panelists: Shane Battier, Mike Zarren, Sue Bird, Mike D’Antoni, Pablo TorreAre basketball teams now so saturated with data and analytics that it’s hard to use them for a competitive advantage?Mike Zarren, assistant general manager for the Boston Celtics, raised an interesting point about what qualifies as analytics in an analytics age. “If I know how well a player slept last night, is that analytics?” The breadth of topics discussed — injuries, biometrics, pace, traditional positions, rest, incentives, shot selection, team chemistry — reveal what a truly broad spectrum of questions and answers fall under the umbrella of basketball analytics. However the field is defined, it all serves the same master: talent. Shane Battier, the poster boy for the adoption of analytic ideas at the player level, summed up the mission perfectly: “It’s about creating space to allow talent to do what they do.”Zarren returned to a well-worn focus at this conference — communication of insights — and defended that arena as the place where a competitive advantage still exists: “You have to use it, it has to affect the decisions you make. I don’t think there is a saturation of that yet.” — Ian Levy Friday, Feb 27, 10:40 a.m.The panel: “Innovators and Adopters”The panelists: Shane Battier, Michael Lewis, Daryl Morey, Jeff Van Gundy and Jackie MacMullanPity Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. Out for the season with injuries after performances well below their high standards, they’re now punching bags in Boston, at least according to the first session of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday.The other panelists treated the retired Battier more or less as Lewis depicted him in a New York Times Magazine article in 2009: the platonic ideal of the intelligent NBA player, one who incorporates insights from advanced statistical analysis to optimize his game for team success. (Battier initially resisted that framing, saying “it was about winning,” before eventually letting on that yeah, he was a pretty smart player.) LeBron James, with whom Battier won two titles in Miami, was the more typical player, open to occasional tastes of analytics-based tips.Anthony and Bryant, though, were depicted as the anti-Battiers, in a question by moderator MacMullan (who, like Battier, works for ESPN, which owns this website and sponsors Sloan). MacMullan noted their selfishness and focus on scoring over other ways of contributing to their teams. (To which my boss, Nate Silver, would respond that Anthony’s shooting makes his teammates better.) Battier made clear how much he relished having those two stars as foils, learning their tendencies so that he could neutralize their strengths when playing defense. MacMullan pointed out that Battier blocked more of their shots than any other player’s. Anthony also topped the Battier leaderboards for balls stolen and offensive fouls drawn. And the pair led another personal leaderboard Battier innovated: They gave him the most “looks of disdain” when they found out he’d be guarding them. — Carl Bialik Friday, Feb 27, 4:35 p.m.At last year’s Sloan conference, Dean Oliver was our ESPN colleague, leading analytics at the Stats & Info Group. This year, he’s here as the Sacramento Kings’ director of player personnel and analytics. I spotted him Friday huddled with a few of his peers from other NBA franchises. Oliver has been in the sports analytics business for three decades, and has seen it grow from a field wrestling with a lack of data to one with more data than it knows what to do with. He spoke with me about the similarities in working for teams and working for sports media, and about what it takes for a franchise to succeed at using analytics. — Carl Bialik Friday, Feb. 27, 6:10 p.m.Walking into a conference at Sloan today I walked by yet another guy in a sports coat — and then did a double take, because this guy’s blazer sleeves were rolled up…and he was a 13 year-old. There are some teenagers running around Sloan but none looked younger than Sam Hafetz and his friends, Manu Hurskovitz, 14, and Jonah White, 14. After calling their parents for permission (hi, Mr. Hurskovitz!), I dragged them to our podcast table. There, Jody Avirgan asked what brought them to Sloan (it’s their second year attending), why they love sports analytics, and what they’d do if they became GMs of the Celtics. — Chadwick MatlinAudio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/kidsatsloan.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Friday, Feb. 27, 4:43 p.m.The panel: “Commissioner’s Perspective: Growing Soccer with Don Garber”The panelists: Don Garber, Grant WahlMLB and MLS share two letters and the pickle of how to balance tradition and innovation. Baseball’s struggle comes from within, as Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred showed earlier Friday. Major League Soccer isn’t as conflicted about changing rules and trying new technologies, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. Its burden, unlike MLB’s, is its peripheral place in a global game.Garber said he wanted goal-line review technology, extra time put on scoreboards (instead of only a ref with a “Timex that probably cost 20 bucks” knowing how much time remains) and a whole lot more. “If I were king, we would have instant replay, we would have cameras on our players, we would be putting them on goalposts.” He’d put a microphone on the field. Players would wear GoPro cameras. He watched hockey players wear GoPros at the NHL All-Star Game and thought it was cool.But Garber can’t have all those things. Other sports’ U.S. pro leagues just need to get the owners to agree, but MLS needs the approval of IFAB, the International Football Association Board — or, as Garber called it, the International Federation of Somebody Who Has Something To Do With the Rules That’s Not Me. Garber’s message to IFAB: “Let us be the Guinea pigs.” He worries that the world’s most popular sport could lose its lead “just because of our structure. We should be able to use the power of our influence to lead.” — Carl Bialik Saturday, Feb. 28, 9:50 a.m.There are bold-faced names headlining the ninth annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, sure. But for academics like myself the real action is in the research paper contest, where academics and researchers are hoping to create the kinds of insights that the bold-faced names one day treat as gospel. For these researchers, Sloan marks the culmination of what can be more than a year’s worth of work. The stakes are high: top prize is $20,000, with second place worth $10,000. For some of the PhD students submitting papers, that may equal their annual salary.But until now, the mechanics of how this contest is judged have largely been cloudy (see an overview of the 2015 contest here, or my personal experience submitting a paper to the 2014 contest here). On Friday, conference co-lead Paul Campbell helped clarify how Sloan makes its picks. “We try to be consistent about what we solicit,” said Campbell. “We kind of have our perspective on the validity of the method, and making sure that the academic and mathematical rigor is there. Also, do the results make sense?”The 2015 research paper contest began back in September, when Campbell and this year’s judging committee, comprised of various MIT student organizers and academic advisers, received 189 abstracts. Of that total, 68 were invited to turn in a formal paper for submission in mid-December. Paper submissions were placed into one of four tracks: basketball, baseball, other sports or the business of sport. The top two submitted papers from each track were given the opportunity to present at this year’s conference. In addition, 11 papers were given a poster in the halls of the convention center.Each of the eight finalists were allotted a 20-minute presentation on Friday. The judging committee identified the top presentation in each of the four categories based on a 50-50 split of the presentation itself and the originating paper.“We have an idea of what the best analytically rigorous paper is, but we want to see if it is presented well. It’s an equal weighting with [the presentation] and the paper,” said Campbell. The four papers still in the running for the top prize, are:Baseball: Who is Responsible for a Called Strike? by Joe Rosales and Scott SprattBasketball: Counterpoints: Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn and Kirk GoldsberryOther Sports: Assessing the productivity of NHL players using in-game win probabilities by Stephen PettigrewBusiness of Sports: Diamonds on the Line: Profits Through Investment Gaming by Clayton Graham.Those four finalists are given an additional 10 minutes with which to make their case, this time in front of a larger and more general audience, including Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and FiveThirtyEight’s own Nate Silver.Those judges, according to Campbell, are asked to judge by something different than the last committee. “Which of these [papers] seems like the most applicable or potentially transformative within the industry?” $20,000 rides on the answer. — Mike Lopez Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:46 p.m.The panel: “Beating the Shift: Baseball Analytics in the Age of Big Data”The panelists: Sandy Alderson, Dan Brooks, Dave Cameron, Ben Lindbergh, Jonah KeriSloan’s flagship baseball panel largely focused on teams’ reactions to sabermetric findings. Alderson, the general manager of the New York Mets, spoke about the proliferation of defensive shifts, and how it has led to changes in the way certain players are valued — specifically right-handed power hitters.Along the same lines, no discussion of baseball analytics would be complete without some mention of strike zone analysis and catcher pitch-framing metrics. Despite the volume of research on the subject in recent years, the consensus of the group was that the market may still not be properly valuing catchers who “steal” strikes on the edge of the strike zone at a higher rate than their peers. Then again, part of that may relate to a theory that pitch-framing is a taught skill. (We’d have liked to hear more thoughts about how umpires doing better at calling an accurate strike zone has led to baseball’s aforementioned drop in run-scoring.)Finally, Keri asked the panel their thoughts about wins above replacement (WAR). The panel agreed WAR was a valuable framework, even if its individual parts can always stand to be improved. For his part, Alderson confirmed that teams use at least some version of it, even with its imperfections, because the idea of creating a cumulative statistic is appealing. — Harry Enten and Neil Paine FiveThirtyEight’s delegation made the pilgrimage to this year’s Sloan conference, a kind of mecca for anyone who’s obsessed with sports, data and retelling how they first felt when they read “Moneyball.” We updated all of Friday and Saturday from Boston, where Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and our own Nate Silver roamed the halls. Read on for highlights from the weekend. CORRECTION (Feb 28, 9:47 a.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the ages of Sam Hafetz and Jonah White. read more