National Sports Day 2019: Sports and technology go hand in hand
National Sports Day 2019: Sports and technology go hand in hand

Mumbai: In the world of sports, data is the king. And the one who knows how to milk statistics from every potential source is the kingmaker.

Few weeks ago, when the Kapil Dev-led panel was asked to select Team India’s next Head Coach by the BCCI, one of the five parameters of selection was ‘knowledge of modern coaching tools’.

The new parameter proves that the modern age is not just about rudimentary know-how, but is also about every coach being as updated as a normal data analyst of his support staff and be compatible with the machines to stay relevant.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Youth Chess Championship pre-event that begins in Mumbai from October 3, Harish Mehta, co-founder of NASSCOM, highlighted the importance of human-machine relationships and use of chess as test bed for researchers in developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an assisting tool.

“We use the game of chess to develop number of skills, predict strategies, produce algorithm writings and become better data analysts. These tools are then used in different ways to complete repetitive tasks with the help of A.I and focus on more productive work.”

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The critically-acclaimed movie Moneyball is the best example of how data-driven performance can be optimised in sports. For those who haven’t watched the movie, it depicts the story of how a baseball team, Oakland Athletics went on to have an unexpectedly prolific season and reached unprecedented heights.

Their general manager, Billy Beane, used statistical data (mainly acquired for free) and analytics to build a competitive team despite the team’s small budget.

The team’s achievements — the most remarkable being their famous 20-game winning streak — showed how a data-driven approach can, to a great extent, compensate for a lack of resources and enhance performance by enabling effective decision-making.

Five cutting-edge technologies in sports currently in use

Hawk-Eye Technology: Just as it sounds, this technology uses 6-7 high-end cameras situated above the field of play (e.g. a birds-eye view) to analyse the flight and trajectory of an object being used in sports competition.

Most commonly used in tennis, cricket, rugby and volleyball, Hawk-Eye Technology has been in use since 2006 in tennis and is more accurate than a judge’s eye.

HANS Device: A vast majority of technological advancements in sports revolve around safety, and the HANS (Head and Neck Support) device used in motorsports is one of the most famous. The U-shaped device keeps the head from whipping forward and backward in a crash.

Wearable Tech: Another advancement in the world of safety and monitoring, wearable computers allow for real-time tracking of an athlete’s health. Wearable tech is used by the Indian cricket team to keep a track on workload.

Prosthetic Devices for Disabled Athletes: What used to be the end of the story is now just a beginning of a new one. People with disabilities, or lost limbs, never had a chance to compete, but with the advancement of prosthetic technology more and more physically disabled are competing like before.

Video Technology: Video assistance proves crucial to referees and umpires for an accurate decision-making process. In cricket, the third umpires are called in to check waist-height no balls and run outs and in football, the video assistant referees are used in the four game-changing situations and provide minimum interference with maximum benefit.

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