How Artificial Intelligence has Transformed the Sports Industry

January 14, 2021

Modern sports have applied technology immensely, like many other aspects of life. Today, technology is being used almost in all fields of our lives. Todays sports involve a massive number of athletes, coaches, and spectators. The vast population involved relies on technologists, scientists, and a host of equipment to manage the sports. Technology use ensures accuracy, makes sports more enjoyable and derives more experiences.

The human body is the main protagonist of sports, while technology and science (Technoscience) play a support role. Sometimes, however, technoscience is blamed for giving undue advantages to those who use them. For any game to be fair, all contestants should have an equal chance of winning. Outcomes should not be entirely predictable in any fair game.

This article outlines the importance of artificial Intelligence (AI) in modern sports and how it has helped in sports evolution. It explains technology’s role in today’s sports and what we expect in the future.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Many technologies can learn, take information, analyze, and respond to it without waiting for humans to respond. It can also be defined as computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Examples of technology aspects used in the sports industry

There are so many technologies used in sports today. They are customized to fit user preferences. Some of them are discussed below.

  1. Goal-Line Technology: An instant signal in a football game used to determine whether the entire ball has crossed the goal-line. The information is transmitted with a second to the referee to ensure that there is no time wasted.
  2. Video Assistant Referee System: Used in football, the referee uses video technology to review and assist in analyzing situations for a decision.
  3. Sensors/Data Tracking devices: Mostly placed under the players jersey to monitor the heart rate, fatigue, and injury prevention.
  4. Virtue Imaging in Swimming: Used to create a superimposed line on the surface of water and graphics. It also creates virtue flags representing each swimmer in the lane.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in sports

Below are some of the applications of artificial intelligence applications in the sports industry today.

Media and fan experience

The fan engagement has increased due to Artificial Intelligence through phones and stadium apps, that are more personalized. This has led to the enhancement of revenue generation opportunities.

  • Video Highlights – Fans are seeking more personalized viewing habits. They seek to view highlights at different times and different content, which can only be possible using AI. A good example of this is Wimbledon, used to determine the most interesting highlights.
  • Automated Journalism – Expansion of media coverage and even coverage using media languages that different fans can understand.

Training and coaching

Training and coaching in today’s sports have changed with technological advancement. Artificial intelligence contains a huge volume of data, training, and game performances that scientists and coaches use as a knowledge source. The knowledge of artificial intelligence keeps on updating with real-time information. This knowledge is used further by sports scientists and coaches, leading to more performance refinement.

Assistant coaching and refereeing

We have already discussed how artificial intelligence is applied in Video Assistant Referee System; similarly, it is applied in coaching. Video games are fed into computers to train the game and its strategies using deep learning. This improves accuracy in analyzing common mistakes and improving tactics faster than a human being can.

Scouting and recruitment

Investing in an athlete is always a big gamble, as a number of them never live up to their billing. There are customized artificial intelligence applications that work on prediction models. Artificial intelligence predicts an athlete’s performance and potential based on multiple factors, for instance, body weight, proportions, strength, etcetera.

Wearable tech

It is a category of devices that use artificial intelligence, worn in clothing or implanted in the user’s body or skin powered by microprocessors, to send or receive data from the internet. This technology has been heavily used to provide data of strains and exertion of a player. It signals that the player should stop the activity to avoid injuries.

Challenges and areas of consideration while investing artificial intelligence in sports

We have seen that artificial intelligence applications have many benefits, such as: faster analyses, accuracy, and automation. Despite its importance, artificial intelligence is faced with some challenges, as discussed below.

  1. Privacy and data leakages – As artificial intelligence is used to examine athletes based on the previous data, there is a possibility of data leakages to the opponents.
  2. Cybersecurity concerns – Devices may be prone to unauthorized access or criminal use, which may breach information confidentiality and integrity.
  3. Resilience – The ability to recover from shocks and difficulties may be difficult as artificial intelligence devices do not have a disaster or crisis management.
  4. Third-party dependencies – Effective artificial intelligence use needs updated data, which one has to depend on another person to update.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence is providing deeper insights to both players and the coaches. The support that artificial intelligence provides in sports can never be underestimated. This is even expected to disrupt the future of the sports industry as AI technology evolves. We will discover new training methods, new techniques, and modern ways of engaging with spectators through the evolution of AI technology. With the current artificial intelligence applications, it can only be anticipated that there will be a steady use of AI technology in the future.


Peer Review Contributions by: Lalithnarayan C


About the author

Pius Macharia

Pius is a computer science student at Moi University, Kenya. Passionate about technology innovations, machine learning, and web development. Pius is a writer on emerging trends in today’s world and issues generating positive impact in society.

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.