Computers In Sports

Coaching and computersComputer technology has made advances in sports by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades. It’s as if computers were created for the benefit of sports and athletics. Computers have changed sporting forever, from the way athletes are coached to the way we watch. As computing power grows and size shrinks, computers are able to provide great insights into the fundamentals of a sport for both spectators and coaching staff.


Computers have been a huge boost for the coaching staff. There are two primary areas of coaching that are a natural fit for computers. The first is the most obvious and most widely used – statistics. With software and immense databases of statistical information, coaches are able to pull relevant statistics by giving specific criteria about a player or team, and receive useful information that he can use to enhance performance as it pertains to the statistical scenario being studied. For instance, maybe a batting coach using statistics found that one of his players really excels when batting against a left-handed pitcher, playing at home early in the season. The coach can take advantage of that information to make the lineup. He may also use the information to try to improve that batter’s performance in different scenarios.

Another area of computing that has greatly improved coaches’ ability to improve performance and prevent injury is being able to analyze an athlete’s motion either through computer-connected sensors placed on the athlete or through computer analysis of video of an athlete during practice or a game. The computer analysis of the athlete’s performance gives the coach insights into where improvements can be made to increase effectiveness. For instance, video analysis shows that a running back gets tackled more often when he spins right as opposed to spinning left. Careful analysis of the body mechanics during each move can help to identify why one move is more effective than the other. With this information, a coach can help the player to incorporate the same body mechanics into his less effective evasion techniques.

Player safety has also been a focus of coaching staff. An injured player is a useless player, so coaches increasingly look at how injuries occur, and train athletes to avoid on-field activities that more often lead to injury. Equipment designers can also use this information to create pads, helmets and other protective equipment that help to decrease the chances of injury to a player during a game or even practice.


Spectators love the abilities that computers have brought to the games. Primarily, computing has opened up a huge audience by making sporting events more available. Now, anyone with an iPhone, tablet or computer screen can watch games of any sport from around the world. No longer is the sports fan tied to his living room television in order to watch the game.

Computer capabilities have given rise to the slo-mo replay, the forward/reverse replay, on-screen analysis, robot referees, call challenges, just to name a few. Football fans feel like they are in the assistant coach’s chair as the previous play is analyzed by a coach-turned-commentator, complete with replay, on-screen drawing, and player isolation. The result give the spectator nearly total immersion into the game. In this manner, computers have had an immense impact on spectator enjoyment, and given a boost to online sports analysis websites (another way computers are integrated into sporting).

Stats are behind the greatest increase in spectator engagement. Statistical analysis has generated an entire new industry – fantasy leagues. These leagues allow sports aficionados to create their fantasy team for the sport that they are interested in. Participants study stats in depth to learn about the best possible players for each position. Fantasy leagues have increased viewership overall. Prior to fantasy leagues, spectators had one or two favorite teams, and would keep up with those teams’ stats. With the advent of the fantasy leagues, a spectator’s team comes from all over the league, so viewership has increased immensely as spectators watch each player on their fantasy team.

Computers are a natural complement to sports, both in the enjoyment and the performance aspects of the games. We’re excited to see where computers in sports will take us in the future.

Biotechnology In Sports

Technology in sports isn’t limited to just stats analysis or number crunching computers. Another facet of technology in sports is the arena of bio-technology. Biotech is the use of technology to develop means of increasing athletic performance through cellular and biomolecular processes. That sounds complex, and it is. Advances in biotechnology in sports have lead to development of steroids, performance enhancing drugs (PED) and human growth hormones (HGH). But not all biotechnology outcomes are negative. Biotechnology resulted in the understanding of fast vs slow twitch muscles, and how to develop them individually for greater athletic performance.

The Good

Most of the positive developments in biotechnology relate to the the sub-field of bio-mechanics. Bio-mechanics is the study of the mechanical system within the body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Bio-mechanics studies have revealed issues relating to brain injuries in football players and boxers, as well as ways to address elbow and shoulder injuries in baseball and tennis players. Bio-technology companies are being contracted by all the major athletic organizations to help protect the organizations’ athletes from devastating injuries that can last a lifetime. An example of such developments are new safety features in football helmets and padding that help protect the players against concussions or neck injuries.

The Bad

Biotechnology often takes the low road when gaining peak performance becomes associated with illicit advantages and large sums of money. This area of biotechnology seeks to give the athlete a boost in his performance from chemical concoctions that allow an artificially fueled growth in muscle growth. Some foods naturally help your body create steroids – eggs, spinach and quinoa for example. In the old days, athletes would fill up on steak and potatoes as their ‘steroids’. Today, nutritionists prescribe athletes a strict diet of steroid-producing foods that can naturally (and legally) produce muscle-enhancing drugs within the body. Protein shakes are another example of the merger of nutrition and biotechnology that legally helps athletes reach peak performance.

On the other hand, unscrupulous businessmen and athletes often collaborate in order to provide athletic gains above their competition by illegal means. These drugs, often administered through injections, don’t have the benefit of lengthy studies ensuring the users’ safety in the short and long term. These athletes are willing to potentially sacrifice the future of their health for short term gains in performance. It’s this seedy side of athletics and biotechnology that give athletic organizations a bad name. Organizations like Major League Baseball have been rife with substance abuse, and only now is the truth being uncovered.


Biotechnology can be used for the benefit or detriment of athletes. The impact on the affected sport can be positive or negative, or both. Greater athletic performance provides spectators with greater enjoyment, but eventually, when the truth is revealed, the sport suffers a public relations nightmare. Players are pitted against players with allegations, lawsuits, penalties. The resulting damage to athletes gives the public pause. An example of such athletes is Junior Seau’s recent suicide. It was later exposed that he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain injury that likely resulted from multiple concussions. The negative publicity resulted in a lawsuit brought on by a group of 5000 players against the NFL.

New Blog Format Coming Soon!

Here comes a new blog about technology in sports!

We have been fascinated by the introduction of technology in to the sporting arena for a long time, so we’ve decided to develop a blog to discuss the pros and cons of the integration of technology into sporting. We welcome your ideas, you comments and suggestions as we prepare to release your articles.