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How Is Technology Changing Sport?

goalkeeper kicks ball stadium in football game No matter where you live in the world, it’s almost certainly true that professional sports are a big deal in your region. For most countries, there are usually a few national competitions that are a big part of the culture, such as cricket in India, baseball in the USA, and hockey in Canada.

Of course, it’s not just betting that’s popular either. Watching sports, playing sports, and consuming other sports-related content are all everyday activities that take place just about everywhere.

But the way we do these things has changed significantly over the years. Almost all of this has been brought about by technology, some directly and others indirectly. Although it’s been going on for decades, this process continues today.

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Here are the ways technology continues to change how we watch, play, and officiate sports.

Streaming

streaming espn on tv Until the 20th century, the only way you could watch a sports game was to visit the stadium and see the action in person. Television changed that and helped professional sports blossom into the commercial juggernaut that it has become today.

TV did this directly by allowing leagues and teams to sell the rights to broadcast their games to networks. Major leagues like the NFL and the English Premier League generate billions each year through these deals, though it’s only part of the story. This is something huge in the industry as one of the key elements because regardless of what sports are popular, you can almost certainly be sure that sports betting is in high demand too. In countries like the UK, where the market for bookmakers has matured considerably, there is often a lot of competition between betting sites, leading to most offering free bets or other bonuses to new customers when they first sign up.

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The large television audiences allow the teams to sell sponsorship space to companies that want to sell their products and services to fans, generating even more money.

New technologies are disrupting the status quo in the sports broadcasting market. Over-the-top (OTT) streaming services have exploded in popularity in recent years, changing the way most people watch movies and television shows.

The same revolution is taking place in sport, albeit at a slower pace. You might think that leagues and teams would not want to upset the apple cart since they have a good thing going with their TV deals, but they must keep up with consumer trends.

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Sports leagues around the world, including all major US championships, Formula 1, and the English Football League have all developed their own OTT services that fans can use to watch games on the go. They either have the choice of watching live or enjoying highlights when it’s more convenient, with additional camera angles and more coverage than may normally be available on linear television.

Professional sports are a big source of revenue for TV networks as they attract large audiences and, therefore, allow the broadcasters to generate a lot of income from advertising during those spots.

But should streaming fully replace TV, the entire linear television model may cease to be profitable.

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Tracking Devices

apple watch series 6 The market for wearable technology continues to expand. In 2021, roughly $81 billion was spent on small computers that we can attach to our bodies, including smartwatches and fitness trackers.

They have helped the average person to gain more insight into their exercise sessions and their general lifestyle so that they can make conscious decisions to improve their wellbeing.

Having the data of calories burned, distance travelled, heart rate, and other key factors can help you track your performance, monitor your progress against goals, and push yourself a bit further.

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This on its own is pretty revolutionary as, before such devices existed, you could only get such data by owning expensive exercise equipment or by going to the gym. But tracking devices aren’t just changing the way the general public gets active, they’re helping professional athletes up their game, and sports leagues to officiate games better.

In the NHL and the NBA, arenas have been fitted with a wide range of sensors and other equipment to follow the position, direction, and speed of every player in the game as well as the ball/puck.

The data is fed back to both the league’s officials and to the team’s coaches. In both instances, it allows them to make more informed decisions. For example, NHL head coaches are given tablets that contain all of this live data, allowing them to see things like the places each player spends most of their time.

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They then factor this into their planning of changes to tactics and formations, leading to more accurate decisions compared to those made on observation and instinct alone.

Multi-angle camera systems like Hawk-Eye do a similar job. Used in tennis, cricket, and football, they paint an accurate picture of where the ball is on the field so certainty can be given to decisions about whether a goal was scored, or a ball went out of bounds.

Clothing

modern sports wear You may not think clothing and technology have much in common and you probably wouldn’t expect it to have much of an impact on sports, but this could not be further from the truth.

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In centuries past, everyone wore cotton garments to play sports. This was one of the cheapest and lightest materials we had, making it the ideal option at the time.

However, cotton still had its drawbacks. The most obvious is the fact that it holds liquids very well, meaning all your sweat will be absorbed by your T-shirt and it will begin to stick to you.

Manufacturing technologies began to evolve through the 20th century, allowing for synthetic fibres like polyester to become viable for mass production.

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In more recent years, further improvements have meant that sportswear has become better fitting, lighter, and more comfortable, so much so that it has become fashionable. So instead of seeing people wearing baggy T-shirts to the gym, most now wear tighter but more flexible garments that reduce wind resistance and feel better.

For athletes, lower wind resistance while running can give you a small but important edge, while in contact sports like rugby, it can prevent your opponents from grabbing hold of you.

None of this would be possible were it not for the technology that allows not only for the creation of synthetic fibres, but also the blending of multiple materials together to get the benefits of each.

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