• Whether you’re a participator or a fan, the world of sports has such a broad and varied community. Such a large entity naturally changes and adapts frequently for the future in order to boost player performance as well as the enjoyment gained by fans.

    With women’s silver trainers supplier Gola, we explore what the future holds for the sports sector.

    Spectators

    Fans want to feel involved. Even the act of attending a game as a fan gives the feeling of participation via a display of support. But as technological advances increase, fans have been increasingly able to simulate this feeling of direct and indirect participation without having to buy tickets to physically attend the match.

    Social media currently

    Social media is arguably a second stadium for a big game! You might not have known a particularly noteworthy boxing match was on, for example, until logging in to your social media accounts and seeing the hashtag everywhere.

    For sports, Twitter is many fans’ go-to choice. Though the social media channel is often cited as being in a state of fluctuation, it has certainly found its footing in the sporting world. In 2014, 80% of Millennials checked Twitter, but this fell dramatically by 2016 with only 37% checking Twitter trends. From 2016, the number of daily users began to increase again, rising by 9%. Visitor counts increase in particular during sports events, as seen during the Super Bowl, with an increase of 19% in terms of unique visitors. Event engagement increased 31% with Twitter and recollection of the event in question increased 35%. With its rapid updating, easy-to-track hashtags for events and by-the-second commentary, Twitter is the ideal platform for fans around the world to gather and comment on the sport event at hand in real time.

    Social media in the future

    In order to push the feeling of active inclusion, virtual reality seems to be the next step. Other than attending a sports game, such technology would be the closest way a fan can get to experiencing the stadium sensation. There’s still a way to go before these types of technology will be readily available and accessible, especially when considering the current capabilities of the technology. As FutureOf points out, the sense of being really in attendance only happens when the action is close to the camera, such as with boxing. For other sports, any action that takes place further away from the cameras becomes 2D and quickly nullifies the sense of emersion.

    Wearing the shirts

    Fans also like to show their involvement outside of the digital world with sports kits, usually in the form of club shirts. As CNN points out, these shirt designs have the potential to symbolise iconic moments in history, so they’re naturally a popular way for fans to be a part of that if they are wearing that shirt too. We saw this desire to own a physical representation of an iconic moment in practice at last year’s World Cup, with French fans clamouring to own the latest Nike shirt bearing two stars, representing the country’s two World Cup wins.

    Stepping into the future

    But shirts may well be taking a step back soon. Multiple studies have shown how Generation Z, the consumer of tomorrow, places emphasis on footwear when it comes to the coolest part of clothes and fashion. For them, it’s less about the newly released shirts and more about the year’s best cleats! This

    could be down to a lesser sense of team loyalty, with more of Generation Z following individual sports stars regardless of their team switches. Following the stars rather than the teams also means that Generation Z tends to prefer fantasy sport games to betting on real games, as the former allows them to put together a team of all their favourite players.

    Players

    Naturally, the players will experience a number of changes regardless of which sport they represent. In fact, not only will our sports stars be enjoying the benefits of the latest in technological advancements for their chosen field, they will be feeling the pressure of an ever-more regulated and finely-scrutinised game. Plus, athletes may well be standing alongside a different type of sports player…

    Outfits and technology

    There are a number of products already out there that have helped athletes push to new limits. From moisture-wicking clothing to wearable monitors tracking distance, speed, heart rate and more, we’re far from the days of just hitting the track with a pair of trainers, shorts and a vest!

    It’s looking likely then that sports stars will soon have access to a wide array of smart-clothing These items of clothing will have integrated sensors designed to read biometrics as you go about your activities. Not only will this track information such as heartrate and temperature, but in the next few decades, one smart-clothing CEO claims we could use the technology to pinpoint why a person has developed illnesses such as cancer, be it genetic, environmental or diet.

    A little more detail

    Technology is also helping in-game decisions. During the FIFA World Cup 2018, video assistant referee technology was introduced for the first time at World Cup level. This technology allowed referees to replay video footage of an event in order to support their decision-making. Not only that, but VAR can be used to award or rescind penalties depending on the original decision.

    Genetically-editing

    Straight out of a sci-fi movie, genetically-edited athletes may be closer to reality than we realise. According to one report, part of the increased data-collection capabilities in sport means that gene-based data collection could also be possible soon. This data could show what, if any, genetics make for a top-tier player. This can then be used in gene-editing to help produce faster and stronger athletes — though this has been noted by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a banned substance.

    The rise of eSport legitimacy

    Oft overlooked in the context of ‘true sports’, eSports have become a whole business. eSports have rapidly grown over the years, with revenue in this area erupting from $130 million in 2012 to $865 million in 2018. Its viewership is even starting to rival real-life sports, with the 2017 World Championship for League of Legends drawing 43 million viewers compared to 44.5 million viewers for game 7 of the NBA finals, according to one report.

    Just like with football, there’s a big difference between playing as a hobby and playing professionally. A lot of it boils down to what gamers call ‘game sense’, which covers what is essentially spatial and situational awareness within the virtual battleground. It is this trait that many think will push eSports players to begin to be treated like athletes in a way, by proving speed and decision-making under pressure. 

    The next few years in the sporting world are certain an exciting landscape. What are you most looking forward to seeing?

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