Sport is not always something that you immediately associate with technology. After all, kicking a ball around in a field does not require any major feats of engineering. However, the reality is quite different, with almost all professional sports leagues investing heavily in new technologies.
These acquisitions can fulfill all sorts of functions, from making the competition fairer with better officiating to improving the safety of participants.
For example, tracking systems are used in sports like basketball and the NHL to measure the position, movement, and speed of every player on the court or rink, making referee calls more accurate. Similarly, Formula 1 has rolled out a bionic glove that monitors the vitals of each driver while they’re out on track to speed up diagnosis in the event of an accident.
Technology can also be used to help build a connection with fans, transforming it from a one-way transaction where athletes compete and spectators watch to something much more interactive.
Younger sports fans may not even realize that technological developments are the reason that this is possible. However, those who have been following their favorite competitions for a few decades will know that there has been a recent revolution that continues today.
Creating a Challenge for Fans
Sports fans are incredibly knowledgeable. In addition to memorizing statistics, they will often have well informed opinions about strategy, tactics, and team selection. Some are content with just shouting at the TV when a player doesn’t do something that they think they should. But others want ways to test their knowledge and ability to predict what is likely to happen on the pitch, court, or track.
One common way to do this is to place wagers on games. This provides fans with an outlet for analyzing data and statistics about their particular sport and then making their predictions. This has proven incredibly popular in recent years, particularly in the United States, where brands like DraftKings Sportsbook have been offering generous free bet offers as they try to build their market share.
Bookies like DraftKings have used technology to make betting much easier, more convenient, and more immersive by allowing fans to bet from their phone as they watch the game. As the industry moved online, this also opened up the opportunity for in-play betting where odds update throughout the game in reaction to what’s happening on the pitch.
Starting a Conversation
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in recent years has been in social media. As its name suggests, this is a much more social and interactive form of media compared to the one-directional broadcasts of television and radio.
This has allowed celebrities, including athletes, to show off more of their personalities. Some, such as Ronaldo, have turned their social media accounts into businesses in their own right, charging large sums for endorsement deals with brands.
But to get the large audiences that allow athletes like Ronaldo to command these eye watering amounts of cash, they have to offer something to fans. Sports stars often do this by giving a glimpse of what goes on away from the field, including how they train, what they eat, and what they like to do for fun.
Social media also gives athletes the opportunity to solicit input from their followers, asking them questions to answer in the comments, requesting they leave suggestions, and encouraging fans to discuss topics between each other. This helps to turn sport into a community rather than an elite clique where the rest of the world are left outside looking in.
Reliving the Action
Sports video games are one of the older examples of this interactive relationship between fans and their favorite competitions, teams, and athletes. Some of the earliest titles that sought to replicate the action seen on the pitch, court, or track, were created in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that we began to see the creation of the formats and brands that we know today.
Today, sports video games offer photo-realistic graphics, accurate physics, and attention to detail that would have been impossible to imagine just a few years ago. These titles allow fans to step into the shoes of their favorite athletes or managers, feel closer to the action, and recreate the moments they see on TV.