Sports and Technology, Weekly Tech Blog, Week of August 7-11, 2017

For North Americans, football season is right around the corner. Technology is changing sports just as it is changing every aspect of our lives.  Here are some of the best ways that football and tech are merging.  Of course, much of this applies to any sport–soccer, rugby, baseball–all of them are using technology for everything from marketing to training. Below, we discuss how technology and sports can work together to create the best experience for fans and players alike.

Connected stadiums  

With ticket prices to major events on the rise, as well as the costs for parking, concessions, and game day souvenirs, sporting venues need to keep bringing in fans. Think about it–if a fan can sit in comfort at home and enjoy a game with their friends in HD, why would they pay exorbitant rates to go to a game? That is where connected stadiums come in.

Connected stadiums seek to enhance and improve the fan experience in every aspect. The issues that some fans have with going to live events–parking issues, long lines at concessions and restrooms, and no wifi connectivity–are all eliminated with the new connected stadiums.  Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta’s newest offering, will take the crown of the most connected stadium in the world. Chelsea FC is embracing the digital fan experience at their new venue.

With full connectivity and digitization, fans will be able to order food and drinks to their seats.  They can find the closest restroom with the shortest lines, and an app will help them with parking. The app also lets fans watch instant replays, acquire stats about players, and update their fantasy leagues. Eventually, stadium owners hope to incorporate VR into the fan experience.  Regardless, today’s stadiums are making every effort to make an immersive fan experience well worth the price of admission.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality and sports seem like a natural fit.  For fans, the VR experience will allow them to view the games from the players’ perspectives.  In addition, some of the major U.S. sports leagues like the NBA (National Basketball Association) are offering VR coverages of games.  In addition, other sports leagues are following suit. NextVR, a VR broadcasting startup, has already covered NFL games and the Super Bowl, the live-stream broadcast of the International Champions Cup (ICC) soccer games, a NASCAR race and some NHL games.

For the players and coaches, VR can be used to influence athlete training.  For example, Florida State University and Texas A&M have their players wired while at practice and games so they know how much effort the player expends. In addition, the STRIVR training module captures 3-D footage of football action and uses that to help players learn playbooks without impact. Sports teams can also use it to replay and analyze the game from different perspectives. Soccer clubs like Dutch team Ajax are already using VR technology to great effect, both to enhance the fan experience and in training.

Watching games and tailgating

Tech for every part of the game has gotten better. We no longer have to smuggle alcohol in pants pockets and risk getting caught. The Drinking Jacket has a solution for that. According to their site, the jacket has a built-in bottle opener, neoprene koozie pocket, hidden flask pocket, drinking mitts and sunglass holder. Now dipsomaniac fans can smuggle alcohol into stadiums with style. For soccer, Formula 1, and rugby fans, Sport Right Now has an award-winning verified sports news app that culls the latest news from every source and puts it into one place. Although the company is still a startup, NeuLion seamlessly syncs live video, live audio and live data (stats) to create dynamic live and interactive TV-like experience over the Internet to any device. interactive digital video experience that gives fans an action-packed experience anytime, anywhere. Features include live event player, DVR functionality, slow-motion viewing, 4K delivery, real-time highlights, and instant replay. This is ideal for fans both attending games and those at home.

Sporting events are no longer passive.  Sports fans expect an active connection with the teams and players, and new technology is making sports an immersive and interactive spectator journey. For the players, new tech to monitor biometrics and performance should help to keep players safer.  In short, sports have fully embraced the digital age, and it can only make the experience better.