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Technology and Sport: Tech Can Get Everyone Active
SportsTech is already prevalent in the sporting industry. Everything from fitness trackers, goal line technology to advanced data analytics has changed how sports are coached and athletes selected. However this article isn't about the technology that is already in use, this is about how sporting bodies in the UK must look to technology. Technology that engages with the consumers and allows them to engage in sports and physical activity by removing the barriers in our industry.
Technology should not be a bolt on to how we organise sports facilties and particpation, it must be a holistical approach that upgrades booking systems, connects users to venues and venues to providers. Changing the way we run sports activities and venues to make them open to players who are not playing sports or being active due to the range of barriers involved with sports.
There are a list of barriers for the consumer, activity provider and facility. Some of these are listed below and as we move forward discussions must be had around each one of these points and innovative ideas are needed on how technology can get everyone active;
Finding participants - Humans by nature are social beings, we want to connect with others and often sports rely heavily on more then one player being present. Yet the average person doesn't have a network of friends looking to play the same sport as them at a time that is convenient for both parties. This is especially true if they have migrated into the area or immigrated into the country, how could they possibly have a large network of people waiting for them to play tennis with?
Finding Venues - Once a person has a partner or a group to be involved with, they still require facilities. Be it outdoor tennis courts, indoor basketball courts, 5 a side football pitches it doesn't matter. What is required is a knowledge of where are the facilities? when are they available? How much do they cost? How can they be booked?
Running facilities - Currently facilities tend to be under utilised and perhaps over managed. Few facilities are automated and therefor require large quantities of man hours to open, close, set up and make sure that people who play actually pay for the facility to be maintained.Due to the man hours required to run a normal facility it is impossible to maintain the facility, run classes and have open slots without charging excessive amounts for memberships. While the outlay of automating many services is huge, the payback period and rate of return can be very favourable for any centre.
Organising activities - I have had the personal pleasure of running a sports club for a number of years, successful growing a sport in an area I was told there was no demand for it. The club grew to 60 people attending across three sessions a week and traveling some distances to do so. It is not always easy, contacting and communicating with that many people and their parents, having facilities that are reliant on someone opening them up and closing them specifically for you brings a list of issues that can make it a daunting task for any person organising a simple regular meet to participate in a sport that is not provided or for those looking for a relaxed friendly outlet for a sport.
Attracting new users - Everyone active has to mean everyone, not just those that are already interested in a typical sport. We have to increase the range of sports on offer, get the elderly involved in sports and social gatherings, the young who do not come from a background of sport participation, those who have had negative experiences of sport and those who do not have a sport they want to try being provided near them.
Technology can go a long way to reducing the barriers to some of these key areas, and as we go forward we will investigate each issue, how they connect and what tech can be implemented to fix issues.
If you have any concepts for introducing technology to sport organisation or removing barriers for users and providers, Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will look to discuss them in future blog posts.