What did Barack Obama say at his secret sports speech in front of hundreds of people?

Attendees at Barack Obama’s speech at the Sloan Sports Analytics ConferenceBarack Obama spoke in front of several hundred people yesterday at a sports conference.

We don’t know what he said.

That’s because Obama’s session at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was off the record — conference organizers prevented attendees from tweeting, livestreaming or reporting on any part of Obama’s appearance during or after the event.

The penalty for breaking the rules, per Sloan: You couldn’t come back to Sloan.

Sloan is a conference dedicated to the Moneyball wing of sports business and fandom. It’s the kind of place you can go to see Nate Silver chatting with Steve Ballmer.

It makes sense that Sloan would want Obama to come and discuss “a wide range of subjects… from his most memorable moments in the White House, to his post-presidency plans,” along with Kraft Analytics CEO Jessica Gelman and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

But I can’t fathom why that talk would be off-the-record. I’ve asked a Sloan rep for comment; a rep for ESPN, which is the lead sponsor for the event, declined to comment.

It looks like Reporters For Sports Outlets You’ve Heard Of complied with Sloan’s rules, which isn’t surprising. Complying with rules of the events you attend is the kind of thing you do when you’re a Reporter For Sports Outlets You’ve Heard Of.

ESPN had a pre-write of Obama’s appearance (and obliquely referenced the off the record part in the headline, and spelled it out in the last graph), but nothing else. And if there was any coverage at all from Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report or my Vox Media colleagues at SB Nation, I missed it. Ditto for the bad boys at Deadspin and Barstool Sports. (Barstool does not like Obama’s portrait, though).

Still: It’s 2018. There’s no such thing as an off-the-record event, especially not one held in the United States, in front of hundreds of people with internet-connected phones, right?

Maaaaybe. Here’s a post from Justin McMahon, whose bio describes him as a student at UNC Chapel Hill and the CEO of Daily Insider, a fantasy sports site.

I’m not sure Justin was actually at the Sloan event, though some of his preceding tweets were about other Sloan speakers. I’ve asked him for more information.

And here are a couple from someone who controls the Twitter account for Women in Sports Tech, whose Twitter stream suggests they were also at the event:

@Simon_pouliot’s timeline has three tweets. This is one of them.

Alanna Astion’s bio says she’s getting a masters at UMass in sport management. This is one of the two Sloan tweets she published today:

And… that’s it?

All those people? Nothing else? Really?

If I’ve missed something, please let me know. And if you attended and want to share something confidentially, that would also be great. My email is on my bio page.

(UPDATE: Heard from one bold attendee who passed along this assessment of Obama’s comments: “It was the kind of stuff that you would say at a high school graduation. I don’t know why it would have to be off the record.” Thank you, bold attendee! Happy to hear from others.)

But to recap:

  • Anyone can go to one of Donald Trump’s private golf clubs and come away with photos of the The President of the United States watching TV, or discussing his North Korea strategy.
  • The last President of the United States spoke at a public forum yesterday where he may have discussed: the importance of playing team sports; his support for diversity in sports, and the need for reform in college sports.
  • But we don’t know that for sure, because there was a surprisingly effective media blackout.

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Partnering with the mobile industry to connect people and businesses with RCS

We’ve been partnering with the mobile industry to improve the messaging experience on Android with RCS (Rich Communication Services), bringing more enhanced features to the standard messaging experience on mobile devices. As of today, we are working with 43 carriers and device manufacturers to bring better native messaging to every Android user.

Rich messaging for brands

Last year we created an Early Access Program to make it easier for brands to start participating in RCS business messaging (the mobile industry’s term for rich business-to-consumer messages). Today companies across food, travel, retail and delivery services in the U.S. and Mexico are starting to have better conversations with their customers using RCS as part of our Early Access Program.

With RCS, businesses can send more useful and interactive messages to their customers. This means, for example, that a retailer can send beautiful images of their products, rather than a text message, and even let the customer select and buy something, all without leaving the messaging app. Best of all, customers who have already opted in to SMS messages from a business get this upgraded experience automatically in Android Messages.

In the U.S., we’ve collaborated with Sprint to enable campaigns with 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel and Subway, among others, along with messaging partners 3C, CM.com, Mobivity, OpenMarket, Smooch and Twilio. We’re also working with Telcel to bring campaigns to Mexico soon with 5 Piso, Broxel, DHL Mexico and Secretaria de Salud along with messaging partners Airmovil, Auronix, Aldeamo and Tiaxa.

In the coming months alongside our partners, we’ll bring RCS messaging to businesses in more regions. And next week at Mobile World Congress, our partners will demonstrate how businesses can change the way they engage mobile customers using RCS.

RCS messaging growth in 2017 across Europe and Latin America

To help make RCS truly universal and give Android users a consistent and familiar experience with access to all that RCS messaging offers, we’ve been working closely with carriers and device makers around the world.

Over the past year, carriers across Europe, North America and Latin America including America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company and Telefonica joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint and Telenor Group in their commitment to launch RCS messaging, powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.They will also preload Android Messages as the default messaging app for their subscribers. Vodafone Group RCS service also supports Android Messages and has already launched across 10 of its 14 RCS markets globally. All carriers are committed to interconnecting through the Jibe RCS Hub to bring RCS messaging to users across networks. Collectively, they represent more than 1.8 billion mobile subscribers worldwide.

To bring better default messaging to hundreds of millions of users, device manufacturers including TCL/Alcatel/Blackberry, Transsion, BLU, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential are joining Huawei, LG, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, HTC, Kyocera, Lanix, Lava, Micromax, Motorola, MyPhone, QMobile, Sony Mobile, Symphony, Vodafone, Wiko, ZTE, along with Pixel and Android One devices in preloading Android Messages as the the default messaging app on their new devices.

We’re excited to see Android Messages and RCS connect more people and businesses, and look forward to expanding our collaboration with the industry to bring better messaging to every Android user.


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Samsung will let people hold the Galaxy S9 in augmented reality — and of course it leaked early

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A capable Reddit user tore down the Unpacked 2018 mobile app and discovered that hidden in the software (for now) is a feature that will let those at the event see the S9 in AR by tapping their phone against their event badge. From there, they can switch between…

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