The evolution of technology in sport is a fascinating subject. While the application of new and improved technologies can aid us in our physical training, it also creates a competitive advantage for those who are willing to take advantage of the latest innovations. Let’s look at how technology is changing the way we play, train and enjoy sports experiences.
The world has changed a lot over the course of human history, and it seems that now, more than ever, we are witnessing changes that are unlike anything that has come before. The progress being made in technology is only enhancing this process.
We have been using technology to aid our performance on the field, track or court for many years. From better equipment for training and competing to coaching techniques and analysis tools that give us an edge over our opponents, these advancements have had a huge impact on all aspects of sports and sporting culture.
The end of sports as we know it
As you watch your favourite athletes on TV or up-close-and-personal at a game, keep your eyes peeled for the tiny details. You might be surprised by what you find: Their shoes, their shorts, even their socks. They may be sporting more than you think.
The evolution of sports has always been defined by man’s ingenuity and desire to improve upon nature. With today’s advancements in sports equipment and technology, the future of sports looks brighter than ever.
Wondering how technology is affecting sports? Keep an eye on these areas:
Athletes are getting faster, smarter and stronger. And one of the main reasons is that they’re using technology.
Thinking of sports without technology is almost unimaginable today. Training camp, for example, is a completely different experience for athletes in the modern-day than it was even a decade ago. Gone are the days when a coach would hand out a pamphlet with training plans and expect his team to follow it to the letter. Nowadays, with technology like GPS tracking and online video clips, coaches can tailor training plans to a player’s specific needs, allowing athletes to maximise their potential.
Let’s elaborate more on some examples:
Video analysis has been used for years by coaches, but new technology makes this process faster and more accurate. High-speed cameras can now record movement at up to 400 frames per second, faster than a normal camera, enabling frame-by-frame analysis of plays so coaches can pinpoint mistakes or areas for improvement.
The Rise of Wearable Technology
Monitoring athletes’ workouts have traditionally relied on the time-honoured method of asking them how they feel, but emerging technology has enabled more objective methods of assessing performance. GPS units worn under clothing record pace, distance and direction while heart rate monitors assess how hard a player is working out. By analysing all this data, teams can work out how best to train players for optimum results.
And they can also be used by coaches and trainers to give athletes instant feedback on their form.
Data and analytics
Many sports teams use technology to help analyse players’ performance. They can see how they perform and how they could improve. It also helps coaches teach the player or team better using new technology. If a player makes a mistake, coaches can show them what they did wrong and how they can fix it next time.
Evidenced-Based in-game Decisions
The use of Hawk-eye in tennis, or the 4th umpire reviewing a decision in cricket, or a player being sent off after a video (VAR) review in football are all examples of the use of technology in sport to make correct decisions on evidence. In the old days, a referee in a football match would make a “gut reaction” decision and hope they were right. Technology means that in most cases, referees can make the correct call every time.
Improved safety and security
The safety and security of athletes and then fans are improved with new technologies.
For example, when a player is injured during a game, an official may stop play so that the player can receive medical assistance. In the past, this stoppage was sometimes caused by a coach or trainer yelling across the field for help, which frequently delayed play for several minutes. Today, technology allows for instant communication between the officials on the field and the medical staff off-field, resulting in a faster response time and fewer delays in play.
Additionally, innovative sports facilities and equipment improve fan experiences and safety. For example, installing protective netting behind home plates in professional baseball venues gives fans a clear view of live play while also protecting them from line drives and broken bats.
Another example where tech has improved safety is concussion management. Significant technological advancements have recently allowed for detecting concussions in real-time, which gives medical staff the power to prevent further injury – by allowing the athlete to be quickly removed from play, eliminating further damage and reducing recovery time.
New Marketing Opportunities
Sports organisations are using technology to improve their marketing efforts.
Many sports organisations have also taken advantage of technology to improve their marketing efforts through social media. For example, many teams have developed Facebook and Twitter pages with large followings to interact with players, coaches, and fellow fans.
Additionally, the popularity of mobile devices has opened up a new marketing avenue for many sports organisations as they can reach out directly to fans through mobile app development. Many professional sports teams have developed mobile applications that allow users to watch live gameplay and replays, check scores, get breaking news about their favourite teams, buy tickets to upcoming games, and even purchase jerseys of their beloved players.
What it all adds up to is increased revenue and fan loyalty.
The capacity for sports organisations to generate revenue has increased with modern technology. Some examples include: enhanced sponsorship opportunities, better target marketing efforts, and a larger global presence due to improved digital marketing.
Athletes and sports businesses aren’t the only ones using science and technology to their advantage; fans benefit from the increased use of technology to enhance their viewing experiences.
Following are examples of how a sports fan may benefit from technology.
Enhanced viewing experiences
Broadcasting networks have taken advantage of advancements in modern technologies to improve the fan’s viewing experience, resulting in increased revenue for the network.
Television broadcasters hold the live game feed from the arena or stadium. They then use a multichannel video production unit to switch the main feed from one camera angle to another without missing any action. For example, the director will choose to use the feed from a camera located at the centre ice for all face-offs and key moments such as scoring a goal.
Additionally, they may switch the feed from the rink side camera when the action heads down towards one of the nets.
These camera angles allow the television viewer to watch replays, get different viewpoints of game strategy, or see up-close shots of fights that break out on the ice.
Advanced technologies like AR/VR, drones, and analytics are opening up new opportunities for the fan experience.
Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the most compelling technologies to enter the sports world in the last few years.
For example, a fan with a VR headset can view a sporting event from multiple camera angles to better understand how players develop and improve their overall game viewing experience.
Technology makes it easier than ever for sports fans to keep up with their favourite teams and athletes.
There are countless ways to stay up-to-date on the latest news, scores, videos, and fan gear between the internet, social media, live streaming services, and mobile applications.
Fantasy sport Leagues
One of the newest ways fans interact with the game is through fantasy league participation.
Fantasy sports leagues allow someone to act as team manager for their favourite team or players. Each team has a salary cap, and the participants can draft players to their roster before each game. The participant then relies on the players they have drafted to generate points that can be used towards winning their league.
Fantasy leagues use technology that tracks each player’s performance to generate points for the participants.
There are several different websites and mobile applications designed for fantasy league play. An example is Football Manager.
With sports teams scrambling for a revenue stream, fan engagement through technology has become a major part of the sports experience.
Technology has increased the opportunities for fans to engage with athletes.
For example, Instagram and Twitter have given fans a unique look into the lives of their favourite sports figures. This allows fans to get a sense of who they are as a person and not just an athlete.
Additionally, teams have begun using apps that allow fans to vote on certain issues or create new game jerseys designs.
Technology has also increased the opportunities for fans to be engaged with other fans in their local community or nationally.
The result? A more positive fan experience.
Technology in Sports Arenas
The sports arena experience as we know it is changing thanks to technology.
For example, fans are experiencing the game in a whole new way through new arena designs thanks to advancements in video boards and sound systems.
With VR technology, fans can be transported through augmented reality to experience game highlights before entering the arena.
Venues and sports teams have also started utilising mobile applications and beacons to deliver special offers, coupons, and content to fans who download the app.
Other features include mobile food ordering, special VIP entrances, and seat upgrades.
Even arenas use technology to make the game-day experience more accessible for fans with disabilities. Venues are starting to offer apps that provide information about where handicap seating is located or if a wheelchair ramp is available.
The addition of WIFI and charging stations makes it possible for fans to use their phones as they never have before by staying connected, utilising social media, or keeping up with scores.
Technology in the Sports Industry – Money well spent?
As can be seen, technological advancements in sports are transforming the game for athletes, organisations, fans, and businesses.
Just as technology has changed aspects of society, it is also changing sports in general.
And gone are the days when it’s enough to be good at the game.
Now, athletes and organisations alike have to be adept in business, marketing, and public relations to stay on top of their competitive edge.
And from a fan perspective, sports fans can now enjoy the game with live results, live feeds, and instant replays. And they too may participate in this technological revolution by using their mobile devices to enhance their viewing experience.