Embracing Tech in the Sports World
It’s rare, if not impossible, to attend a sporting event and not see several cell phone screens raised at one point or another throughout the game. Whether recording, Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapping or selfie-ing… people love to be connected more than ever. The days of only feeling the rush and excitement of game day by actually attending the game are long over. Now, you can get that same feeling while enjoying it in the comfort of your lazy boy. With the improvement in quality of at-home viewing, and with online-streaming capabilities and TV imaging so clear, you can now literally see the sweat beading off of players’ faces, even when you’re not at the game.
This is why the NFL and multiple football stadiums have made it a priority to upgrade their connectivity, luring fans back into their seats. Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was one of the first to dive in, undergoing a major upgrade in 2012. Their aim: to provide this same “at-home” comfort, increase available bandwidth and encourage attendance at games. Now, the Wi-Fi network is so powerful that about 40% of the 70,000 fans in the stadium can connect at the same time.
This increased connection caters to the fan wishing to give a play-by-play via Facebook or Twitter or the “Snap happy” fan who chooses to record all the games’ happenings in 10 second increments. While allowing such a large number of attendees to access their social media accounts simultaneously is impressive, it doesn’t stop there. What is truly exciting and sure to draw in attendance is the implementation of technology so advanced that fans can check how long the wait times are before leaving their seats, properly timing their washroom breaks so not to miss kickoff. This and more are all made available on the in-house app, Patriots Gameday Live. A whopping 10,000 users have been measured using the app during a typical game, according to Fred Kirsch, the New England Patriots publisher and vice president of content.
Naturally, a certain level of resistance was originally shown by big stadium and arena owners in making improvements to in-house technology. Attending a sporting event has traditionally been about the game itself, and the experience of hearing the crowd, immersing yourself in the environment and being “in the moment”. It’s not to say that this way of thinking is wrong, it’s just in need of a modern spin. How can the experience of game day be made even better? Well, providing real-time play backs and highlights to fans at the click of a button, notifications about traffic, weather and parking is an excellent start that Patriots Gameday Live has instituted. It’s not that the idea of the traditional sporting experience is getting lost, it’s just being advanced. So whether you’re screaming from the sidelines, sharing your passion through Snapchat, or throwing things at the TV – Go Team Go!