Play ball: McMaster World Congress will showcase links between sports, business, and technology

Marisa Bachetti, Marketing and Community Engagement Intern | Hamilton | January 31, 2018

The 2018 McMaster World Congress Team. Back row, left to right: Raj Dosanjh, Jasman Gill, Muffy Phull, Sukhraj Sandhu, Taylor Grenning. Front row, left to right: Manpreet Gill, Cherry Hanna, Monica Liou, Layal Sabeh.

Returning for its 39th edition, this year’s McMaster World Congress will focus on the theme of Sports Management and Analytics during its Feb. 1-2 program in CIBC Hall.

One of the longest-running student business conferences in Canada, the Congress showcases industry and academic professionals who are ready to discuss exciting and relevant topics with McMaster students from all faculties. More than 4,000 students attended last year’s event.

Nick Bontis, DeGroote Associate Professor and World Congress Program Director, has been involved for more than two decades. Bontis still recalls sitting in the crowd as a student, and believes the Congress embodies “exactly what experiential learning is all about,” providing opportunities for students to socialize and network with industry players.

A number of speakers will focus on the field of sports analytics, allowing students to gain knowledge in various aspects of this developing field. Sports analytics is a broad spectrum that involves gaining a competitive edge both on and off the field. It enables users, such as coaches or managers, to obtain valuable knowledge about an opponent, including their strengths and weaknesses.

DeGroote MBA alumnus Gihan Foneska is one of the speakers lined up for this year’s Congress. He too sat in the audience in past years, attentively listening to presenters share their thoughts and ideas, all while developing his own. Foneska, a two-time McMaster graduate with an undergraduate degree in Economics, is currently running Athelink – a tool that digitizes many aspects of sports organization and data collection. One feature, called the Live Visual Statistic Tracking mobile app, allows scorekeepers and parents to provide an “ESPN-like experience to everyone involved in the event.”

Meghan Chayka, Director of Research at Stathletes, will also focus on the intersection of sports data and analytics. Chayka co-founded Stathletes as a Social Sciences student at McMaster, and previously worked as an Analyst at John Deere and as a Financial Analyst at the Ministry of Transportation before shifting focus to her own venture. A hockey-driven service, Stathletes boasts 100 times more statistical resolution compared existing tracking methods, as well as “ultra-low level analysis” of games. 

Attendees will also hear from David Clanachan, a soccer enthusiast with coffee running through his veins. Clanachan, who was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Tim Hortons Canada in 2014, is currently serving as Commissioner of Canadian Premier League (CPL). The CPL is Canada’s newest domestic men’s professional soccer league, and is set to launch next spring with several clubs east to west.

Chris Shewfelt, also presenting at this years Congress, will be bringing a special treat for attendees – the MLS Cup. Shewfelt, who is Senior Director, Global Partnerships, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), cites the launch of the current-league-champion Toronto FC soccer team in 2007 as his most memorable and fulfilling career highlight.

In addition to industry professionals, student speakers Zoila Rossie Ricciardone, Martine Kyorkis, and Jared Daley will be discussing the development of eSports and its impact on the business world. eSports, also referred to as electronic sports, refers to organized video game competitions involving high levels of training and skill. Forbes recently referred to eSports as “the new college football.” Several students from across campus will be providing a live demonstration of Rocket League, a vehicular soccer video game, along with presenting the history and challenges of managing a competitive eSports team.

Other speakers include Paul Mercante, President and Co-founder, GeneBluePrint; John Lashway, President, Lashway Consulting Group; Glen Grunwald, Director, Athletics & Recreation, McMaster University; Darren Arnold, Senior Director of Ticketing, Hamilton Bulldogs; Nicole W. Forrester, Assistant Professor, Ryerson University, Canadian Olympian; and Kautilya Jamadagni, McMaster Student Representative, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario.

The 2018 McMaster World Congress will take place Feb. 1-2 in CIBC Hall, located on the third floor of the McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC). Admission is free, but registration is required. The Congress is presented in partnership with Hamilton Economic Development, CPA Ontario, media partners AM900 CHML and AVTEK, as well as supporting partners McMaster University, McMaster Innovation Park, and Greening & Co.

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