Sports has always been a unifier— transcending geographical borders and partisan politics while allowing people of all generations to come together.
Globally, the sports industry is valued at $2.3 trillion. Why? The answer lies in the way people fall in love with it. The emotional quotient is high as people get involved in sports. People fall in love with sports because it gives all an opportunity to play and we play because we all believe we have the potential to Play Better. Play Better is the cornerstone of the sports industry but has been a big problem since the inception of sports.
The challenge of improving one’s game has plagued us since the dawn of sports. Peter Drucker said, “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed”. But how do you measure your game? In cricket, there have only been laggard indicators – runs scored, wickets taken, etc. There has been no concrete way to gain immediate, actionable insights to improve one’s game. Therein lies the untapped opportunity.
In today’s connected world, technology has profoundly impacted industries across the board. But there is something unique about sports that inspires an unprecedented amount of innovation focused on modernizing and evolving one of the world’s favorite passions.
Although the use of technology in sports is increasing, the industry is definitely a laggard in terms of adoption. The major innovation has been in broadcasting – drone technology, motion cameras, and wicket cameras. Wearable devices that assess fitness and health information for athletes is another area of tech intervention. We, however, do not see much use of technology to improve the game of sportspersons. There is a huge untapped market in improving a player’s performance, which can boost the financial viability of a team and the sporting industry in general.
Although sports tech is still in its infancy in India, it is gaining ground in line with international trends. Let’s take a look at some examples.
During the 1970s and early 2000s, videos dominated the home box office. This was the first time technology was used by the Indian cricket team. However, analyzing a videotape was subjective.
Cut to 2019. The Indian cricket team had signed a deal with a global performance tracking and analysis company to improve its game in the days before the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup began. The device measured distance covered, speed, acceleration, and deceleration. As a result, the coach and support staff were able to analyze and record data about the players’ movements and manage their workloads.
Through coaching, training, and practice, as well as using video analysis to analyze technique and form, players’ performance has historically been enhanced. Unfortunately, all the above is very subjective and two different coaches/players will interpret the same video differently. It doesn’t give an objective truth.
Athletes can really advance to the next level of performance if technology is used to drive accuracy, dexterity and neutrality. With state-of-art IoT devices, players and coaches can watch every practice session in greater and objective detail and gain a deeper understanding. In addition to saving the cost of setting up expensive and cumbersome cameras, users can access the insights via their individual phones which are connected to these sensors whenever and wherever they want. Essentially it can be accessed by ANYONE, AT ANYPLACE, and at ANYTIME.
In almost every part of life, technological advances are improving people’s lives. They can simplify tasks, make them more efficient, provide more data, and enable people to achieve things once thought impossible. While sports has always been a great leveler, sports tech has the potential to democratize the industry and give everyone who plays an equal chance to “Play Better”
So why should the sports industry miss out?
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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