JS Rancourt Hockey Robotics
He shoots, he scores!
What if you could help a hockey player take the best shot? Make an Olympic athlete swim even faster? Design an innovative piece of sports equipment that changes a game completely?
You can do all these things and much more when you mash up a sports and tech career. Sports tech careers can focus on improving athletes’ performances and developing ever more sophisticated equipment that’s individualized to let each athlete make the most of their strengths.
With millions of dollars at stake in salaries and product endorsements, sports is big business and data driven decisions can be a game changer. The popular movie Moneyball showed how major league baseball teams use incredible amounts of related data (Big Data) to predict the outcome of player’s performances and identify undervalued players they can trade on the cheap.
Cool Sports Tech
Today, baseball teams use this Moneball kind of data analysis - called sabermetrics - to predict how many home runs a certain player might hit or who is better at third base. In fact, many professional teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have hired full time sabermetric analysts.
Football and soccer teams also use reams of real game data to analyze the best position for their players on the field against each of their competitors in any given situation. Can you even imagine how many million bits of data that takes? That’s why sports data analysts rely on software programmers to continually create innovative ways to crunch the data and present results in ways that make it easier to assess strengths and weaknesses.
Besides crunching data, Olympic and professional athletes, as well as sports teams and even referees, rely on technology to get an extra edge in ways that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago. Here are a few of the many examples:
- Tiny sensors attached to an athlete’s body collect continual real-time information on what every muscle is doing during a training session. Running this kind of biomechanical information through special swim analysis software helped Canadian swimmer Brent Hayden win a bronze medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
- Waterloo-based Hockey Robotics works with manufacturers to improve the strength of hockey sticks through robotic technology it created that mimics a human slap shot. When a stick breaks, the robot sends data to a computer program that determines what caused the stick to break and engineers figure out how to eliminate the weakness.
- The ultimate soccer ball called a "smartball" has a computer chip to track the ball’s precise position around the field in real time. This information is used for coaches to see good and bad patterns in a player’s performance as well as help referees make fair calls. The world’s leading soccer league – FIFA – has approved the smart soccer ball to ping referees the split second the ball crosses the goal line. No more arguing about whether a team really scored!
- Canadian mathematician Richard Hoshino helped develop a computer program that adjusted the season schedule for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League to reduce travel between cities by up to 25%. Richard combined math and sports with his passion for also using math to solve environmental issues!
Education, Skills and Careers
There are so many ways to mash up a career in sports and tech, the best way to begin is to match your sports passion to what you think would be a dream career.
And, while we’ve focused on tech innovations for the elite of sports, there’s career potential too in the consumer sports and fitness sector where new equipment, gadgets and endless mobile apps are constantly being created. What runner or fitness addict do you know who doesn’t use apps or gadgets?
All areas of sport are gaining ground from revolutionary tech advances created by such areas of study as engineering, material science, biomechanics, kinesiology (study of human movement), data analysis, database management, software programming and information and communications technology (ICT).
You can take tech degree or diploma programs like those listed above, then focus on launching your career in a specific area sports, ranging from professional teams and Olympic organizations to equipment and gadget manufacturers.
So, if you love sports, mash it up with tech and find a slam-dunk career. Check out these CareerMash Featured Programs and Career Profiles to see what post-secondary programs require and examples of courses they include.
- Data Analytics
- Biomedical Engineering
- Business Technology Management
- Software Development
- Information Systems Security
- Web Developer