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The Data That Powers The Sport Experience

The sports industry has changed dramatically over the past few years and it has been driven by one force in particular: data. Data and data analytics have redefined the way athletes train and perform, but it has also changed the way coaches and fans watch and understand the game. With accurate information on all aspects of a competition, insights can now form the basis for intelligent decision making.

Data analytics has found its way into almost all sports categories as teams equip themselves with new data that can help them improve their performances in the future. An example for this are the world’s most famous sport events that generate up to 15 terabytes (TB) of data over the course of the competition thanks to ever evolving technologies. And this trend is not likely to stop.  Upcoming competitions this summer promise to be a visual and data-rich celebration in and out of the arenas. From the performance on the field to athlete development and growth, data has become the key to success in international competitions. To harness the full potential of the collected data, organizers, coaches, and athletes are looking for effective ways to store, analyse, and utilise all the insights.

Mastering the competition with data analysis

During a competition on the race tracks, a pool, or on a field, the potential lies in analysing athlete data. By utilising technologies such as sensors, GPS and fitness trackers, athletes are using smart wearables to create real-time statistics databases. They track speed, heart rate and acceleration and learn how to use all this data to improve their game. In addition, data analysis can facilitate comparisons between athletes by comparing their performance with that of their peers. This enables an objective assessment of an athlete’s progress and level of performance. It can also help to set goals based on performance data and track improvements over time, creating a feedback loop that motivates and guides training efforts. Thanks to further innovations in fitness trackers, it is now also possible to interact in a predictive way and forecast performance. By analysing historical data, trends and contextual factors, athletes can make informed predictions about future outcomes. This information can serve as the basis for training programmes, competition strategies and tactical decisions. This is not only useful for active athletes to improve their performance metrics or track their progress. Injured or battered players also have access to details about training intensity, balance, and speed to help them recover faster. This data can be particularly important when it comes to avoiding further injuries due to overuse or changing form to prevent re-injury.

Off the pitch, trainers are using the potential of their athletes’ data to better manage workloads and maintain game-day fitness across their rosters. They can evaluate a runner’s best lap based on criteria other than time. The coach can see if and when the athlete’s heart rate is in an optimal range, how far the maximum stride length is and whether breathing has optimised oxygen uptake. These underlying numbers are just as important in performance evaluation as the result, and wearables open a new window into these metrics. As athletes and clubs seek to gain every possible competitive advantage, these tiny details can make the difference between glory and defeat.

Enhancing the event experiences on the sidelines

The use of data and data analytics is not just for the athletes and their coaches. With the advent of wearable technology and smart stadiums, fans now have access to real-time player and match data, enhancing their understanding and engagement with the sport. From tracking player movements to analysing live stats, fans can immerse themselves in the game like never before. Broadcasters play a particular crucial role in this. To bring viewers closer to the sporting event, they will accelerate the production of their content, upgrade to 4K ultra-high-definition resolution and utilise new AI-powered data innovations. Together with a new way of distributing content and the use of real-time animations, the broadcast can immerse viewers in a thematic experience. Upcoming sport events like the one in Paris use a cloud-based broadcasting infrastructure that will enable AI-supported big data analyses to bring the spectator onto the pitch. This means, for example, that with the help of cameras pointed at the athletes’ faces and biometric data, the system can analyse the slightest changes in skin colour. This allows spectators to follow the adrenaline rush of the athletes in high definition. It will also enable the system to show the best-identified highlights just seconds after the game, utilising elements such as player reactions and crowd noise. By using an automated media tagging system this footage can be tagged much more efficiently and used to tailor content to different audiences – from broadcasters to individual fans who want to see the action of a particular country or athlete.

Data storage: Fuelling triumphs

To carry out these types of analyses, enormous amounts of data storage are required. With more than 14,000 athletes competing in 40 different sports and more than 400 events covered by over 7,500 host broadcasters and 25,000+ journalists, there are potentially millions of data points to be captured. To interact and utilise this data, high-performance storage solutions are needed at the edge and in the core to help unlock the potential of this data. From embedded flash memory in wearables with up to 8 GB, to SD cards for 4K (broadcasting) cameras that require 45 GB per recorded hour, to high-performing SSD and high-capacity HDD solutions in the cloud – data storage is an integral part of the modern sport competitions to gain a competitive advantage. As technology continues to advance and more data becomes available, the role of data in sport will continue to evolve and shape the future of the industry. For athletes to keep winning, there will be more reliance on data, statistics, and analytics, and for this to be possible the storage solutions have to be fit for purpose.

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