5 Ways Technology Has Impacted Sports

sports tech

Hello French Fries,

Today I’m going to do something different. Since the NFL playoffs are now in full swing, and since I am crunched for time, I’m going to do a fun post detailing 5 ways technology has influenced sports.

1.) Instant Replay:

refLike many technological innovations, Instant Replay started with the military. Two weeks after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the annual Army-Navy college football game was expected to be a highly viewed telecast since it symbolized tradition, ceremony and military order to a nation in mourning. CBS decided to use the 1963 edition of the Army-Navy game as a trial Instant Replay, or replaying footage in-game of a play that had already happened. This would revolutionize sports, both from a spectator perspective being able to see a play one might have missed and dissect it, as well as from a participant’s perspective. In 1986, the NFL pioneered the use of instant replay for the purposes of official review. The NFL started using instant replay to review calls on the field and make sure the zebras get their calls right. Since then, instant replay has been adapted beyond the gridiron. While other sports and leagues have been a bit slower in adopting and implementing instant replay for official review, over the past decade or so, most professional leagues have put into place policies for instant replay. In 2001, the NBA started using instant replay for a narrow set of discretionary officiating decisions late in games. In 2006, the NCAA followed the NFL’s example and instituted instant replay for the same purposes as the NFL. In 2014, Major League Baseball followed suit and started using instant replay in instances such as determining if a ball went fair or foul of the post. In 2015 the National Hockey League followed by using instant replay to review each goal and make sure it crossed the line and threshold of the goal. In 2016, FIFA started trialing instant replay for several competitions, while encouraging several national leagues to set their own policies on using it. Although FIFA has been studying the applications of instant replay for about a decade, this year’s World Cup will be the first official tournament to use instant replay. Major League Soccer debuted instant replay midway through their 2017 season, but several other national leagues have resisted implementing the technology. My personal opinion is that if the technology exists, and there is ready access to it, use it. It’s better to get the decision right than to cost a worthy contender the game with poor officiating.

2.) College Sports Recruiting

In the good ole days of NCAA recruiting, coaches would either go watch a prospect play the game, or send someone (like a scout) in their stead and make a judgment call based on what they see on the field. The good ole days are no more. Thanks to the internet, YouTube, statistical analysis software, social media, video cameras, and such, recruiting has become a technologically intensive affair.  Coaches have to be tech-savvy these days, tweeting at prospects, utilizing Facebook, texting, etc. Technology has rapidly changed how college coaches recruit, and the lifestyle that leads. The only good ole bit about it left is the fact that Letters of Intent are still sent by facsimile

3.) Stadium Architecture

Aviva StadiumThe buzzword for any new stadium being built across the globe is ‘high tech’. As we have entered the digital, technologically advanced age that late 20th century movies have dreamed of, the leading focal point of our high tech society and high tech cities has been their stadiums, and with good reasons. A cities’ showpiece to their nation and the globe, and the centerpiece of their skyline often revolves around their sporting venues. The latest and greatest new stadiums are completely connected to the digital and technological world. Examples include Sacramento’s solar powered and highly connected Golden 1 Center (where the NBA’s Sacramento Kings play), Atlanta’s pedal-shaped retractable roofed, translucent color-changing walled, high tech behemoth Mercedes-Benz Stadium (where the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United play), and many European soccer stadiums that now come standard with high speed wi-fi connectivity, easy transit connections, sleek modernistic designs, energy efficiency, sound reduction (outside the stadium) and amplification (inside the stadium) and the ever popular coat of color-changing translucent glass, plastic or Teflon wraps (revolutionized way back in 1972 with Munich’s Olympiastadion, which Bayern Munich called home before moving to the equally impressive Allianz Arena in 2005). As technologies such as wifi, solar power, app development, energy conservation, LED screens and surround sound become more and more advanced, stadiums become to look more and more like spaceships.

4.) Fantasy Sports

Many people use websites to manage their fantasy sports league. By joining my office’s fantasy football pool, I was one of 75 million people this year who partook on online fantasy football. My office used Yahoo to do our fantasy football, but there’s many fantasy sports sites out there for handling a variety of sports. The concept of fantasy sports is that you and your league hold a draft (which is mostly done through the internet) to select as of yet undrafted players from many different teams, then you track your draftee’s statistical output, with each statistic being worth a certain amount of points. The person who’s fantasy team creates the most points wins. It’s popular for both betting and just for fun, and is completely managed through the internet. The internet age allows us practitioners to track stats, predict who to draft, and easily score our teams. I often use a calculator to calculate previous seasons stats of players and predict a trend using graphs, all from websites available the tips of my fingers. The attention to detail is endless, and all is available online. No wonder it’s called D&D for jocks!

5.) Video Gaming

eSportsFor those who can’t get enough of sports by spectating, participating, and analyzing, there’s a further indulgence that allows the sports fanatic to live breath and eat sports 24/7. Video games allow us to live out our fantasies that otherwise would be crushed in reality. For instance, if my Madden world were true, the Falcons would have won the Super Bowl dozens of times over (instead of never). In 2017, 4 of the top 10 selling video games were Madden 18, NHL 18, Fifa 18 and NBA 2k18. That’s 40 percent of the top 10 list from one genre. Not too shabby. What this means is that for the gamers out there, sports genre video games are highly popular. Video gaming is also becoming a huge part of general sporting culture. NFL players refer to the Madden curse, which is the trend that almost every year, the cover athlete on Madden’s annual iteration of the game ends up getting injured. NFL stars still do it because it pays a truckload of money in sponsorship fees and they are a huge part of the games central theme for the year, but the curse is out there. The culture around sports video games is only growing, and is taking on a life of it’s own. There are now paying professional leagues for the best Madden players and the best FIFA players, and there is a term for this form of competition: eSports. eSports are not limited to sports video games, but are often considered a form of sporting competition. It is often said, for instance, that Starcraft is the national sport of South Korea (it’s not, TaeKwonDo holds that official status, but eSports are really REALLY popular there!). While some people jest, what cannot be denied is eSports are such a popular and growing form of competition, it’s now a billion dollar industry. Talk about runaway tech!



I was going to do a tech tip of the day, but it ended up being super long, so I decided to split that off into a separate post. Until next time…

…the Ketchup is in the sauce.

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