Video: Five Major Trends Changing Pro Sports

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By Kelsey Alpaio and Kaitlin Milliken, Staff Writers

Isaiah Kacyvenski is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Sports Innovation Lab in Boston. A former linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks and wearable technology entrepreneur, he now works to identify and evaluate new technologies that will influence the future of sports — from the sidelines to the stands to the television set (or mobile device.) Kacyvenski will be among the speakers at next month’s Teach-In gathering at MIT, October 10-12, 2017.

In the video above, Kacyvenski discusses five major trends he sees impacting the future of sports, including “smart venue,” eSports, and “quantified athlete,” or measuring all kind of dimensions of performance using new sensors and wearables.

Some other highlights from our conversation:

  • The value of being there, versus watching at home. “I think that’s going to be a constant tug of war. It’s going to be interesting how technology plays a key role in that. More and more, you’ll see a higher premium being able to put actual butts in the seats.” However, he notes that a countervailing force is that consumption of media and entertainment is “becoming more and more virtual in almost every single way, and becoming more and more ubiquitous.”
  • Not every team or league is an early adopter. “No leagues and no teams are made the same…Some are very forward‑looking, some are not. Then you have the differentiation within those leagues — the teams that are very, very forward‑looking on technology playing a role. For most teams, being able to embrace technology means different things. …If you’re an owner, do you wholeheartedly believe that you should deploy resources [to invest] in ways in which your players can feel their absolute best on game day? It feels like a no‑brainer, but there’s a lot of owners and organizations that have not fully bought into that. Maybe there needs more proof around how this can help optimize performance, how this can help optimize how you feel on game day.”
  • It’s tough to resist the pull of the day-to-day operational needs. “The fact is, innovation teams that we’ve talked to globally and worked with globally, it’s tough [for them] to think about the future when getting the day‑to‑day action and requirements of the day‑to‑day — they’re not done until 10 o’clock at night. No one wants to think about what the future looks like at 10 o’clock at night. You keep kicking future innovation down the road…”

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