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Obama to speak at sports conference in Boston next month

Barack Obama is coming back to the Boston area, this time to speak at an MIT conference focused on sports.
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Former president Barack Obama will speak at a sports conference in Boston on Feb. 23. Photo: Reuters

Former President Barack Obama will be coming back to Boston next month, but this trip doesn’t have to do with his daughter at Harvard or receiving any awards at the JFK Library.

Obama will be in the area to speak about sports at a conference hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Next month marks the 12th annual of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, held this year Feb. 23 to 24 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Daryl Morey, General Manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, first announced Obama’s appearance on his Twitter, in which he called the 44th president a “well-known sports fan.”

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Obama seems to particularly favor basketball: In 2008, as president-elect, he called for an eight-team college football playoff (a four-team playoff began in 2014). While in office, he would appear on ESPN to fill out his March Madness bracket, and in a 2015 interview, he once said he would “absolutely” want to be part of the ownership of an NBA team.

Morey is a co-chair of the conference, which is focused on exploring the role of analytics in the sports industry. Industry professionals and students will gather for forums, workshops and a startup tradeshow competition.

Sports analytics is a key part of business decisions in the industry, affecting everything from the fan experience and concession operations to evaluating athlete talent, improving player performance and preventing injuries, experts say.

Obama is scheduled to speak Feb. 23 at the conference and will address “his time in office and the next chapter in his life,” organizers wrote.

Other conference speakers joining Obama on the schedule include Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers;  Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird; Nate Silver, data journalist and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight; and the commissioners of the NBA, NHL and MLB.

If you’re hoping to catch the former president's talk, you’ll have to act fast. General admission and student rate tickets are already sold out, according to MIT Sloan, but “general admission plus” and VIP tickets, which run between $850 and $2,500, are available as of Jan. 8.