Technology has changed just about every part of the world around us from how we work to how we spend time with friends. It’s even affected areas you may not always realize. Modern cars are packed with computers and sensors, while other technologies are used to help maintain our food supplies.
Sport is another of these areas where it may not always be immediately obvious as to the impact that technology has. But at just about every level, and in every discipline, technological developments are changing the way sport is played, officiated, and watched. Here are the biggest and most influential ones.
Streaming technology turned just about every segment of the media industry on its head. Over the last ten years, we’ve changed the way we consume music, radio, television, movies, and books. We almost never buy albums or films anymore, choosing instead to pay for monthly subscriptions to services that let us stream unlimited amounts of content over the internet.
Sport is also beginning to be touched by this streaming revolution, though it is behind other types of entertainment.
Many leagues now offer their own streaming platforms, allowing fans to watch games live or catch up at a later stage. Traditional TV networks also have streaming services that carry the sports coverage that they offer through their linear networks.
On top of that, some sports betting companies offer live streaming of some of the competitions that they accept wagers on. With so much competition in the market, this is just one of the many ways that sportsbooks look to set themselves apart from their rivals. It is often complemented with promotions offering risk free bets to new customers and odds boosts on certain games.
With so many options, sports streaming is quite fragmented at present, but as the technology and market mature, this will likely change.
Fitness Tracking and Sensors
At its most basic level, sport is about humans pushing their bodies to the limit to go faster, score more points, or overcome their opponents. Athletes have, for all of history, sought out every tiny competitive advantage over their rivals, often turning to special diets, rigorous training regimes, and even psychologists to help them mentally prepare.
In Formula 1, Michael Schumacher pioneered a much more systematic and regimented approach to preparing for his races in the 1990s, becoming the fittest driver on the grid by a long way. Today, every F1 driver follows the same steps that he did, meaning those that want to get ahead have to look for new ways to do it.
For F1 drivers and athletes in other sports alike, technology is helping them to do this. Fitness tracking devices, including consumer devices like Fitbit and more advanced tools, help athletes to monitor their exercise and allow them to safely push their limits even further.
In baseball and other bat-and-ball sports, high-speed cameras are used in training sessions to record players swinging and pitching. The footage then provides a guide to players to help them make small refinements that will give them an edge on the field.
Some of these tracking and sensors are also used for other purposes. Alongside specially-located cameras installed around stadiums and above courts, these systems feedback data to referees, umpires, and stewards to give them more information to make better decisions.
The Hawk-Eye system was one of the earliest examples of this, helping cricket and tennis officials to see if balls went out of bounds or if players had committed fouls. Without the high-speed triangulated footage provided by this system, they’d have to make high-stakes calls based on what their eyes saw in a fraction of a second from quite a distance away.
In just about every sport, there are examples of teams and athletes losing out on championships, titles, and important games because a referee was looking the wrong way or their position distorted what they saw.
These specially-designed officiating systems help to remove this human error from sport, creating a fairer competition for everyone.