How AI will impact Sports?

I love sports, I really do. The other day, FIFA (football’s world governing body) introduced the Video Assistant Referee – popularly known as VAR to help match officials make critical decisions. Whichever team football fans support, VAR has made controversial decisions before and continues to do so. It was so bad that at some point, fanatics started to campaign against it. Well, with time, people got used to VAR and today support it fully.

Let’s take a look at how Artificial Intelligence(AI) will impact sports.

Quest for more accuracy

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is watched by billions world over, and that is why world cups and UEFA champions league finals are some of the most-viewed events in the world. With so many people involved, there is that urge to make refereeing decisions as accurate as possible.

Previously, referees would make huge decisions that would affect the game completely. For instance, a penalty wrongly awarded to a team and a red card against a team can hugely affect them. For that reason, controversial penalties and red cards are continuously reviewed by the video assistant referee, and a final decision is made.

Such a move has seen players that previously got away with simulation get caught and even punished. Furthermore, teams wrongly penalized against can appeal and their cries heard by the VAR. The technology, although, has seen a significant change in how the game is played.

Eradication of the human touch

Sometimes, errors make the game interesting. That said, football lovers now miss the human touch that existed before the invention of the VAR. Previously, a goal would be scored, and once the referee pointed at the center of the pitch while blowing his/her whistle, that would be it. When a controversial goal is scored, the VAR has to review the goal and establish if the goal was rightfully scored.

Whenever that happens, the play has to be stopped. This kills the natural excitement that would come with allowing and disallowing goals by referees’ reliance on instincts, their experience, and training. Sports lovers now have to hold their patience as the VAR reviews the goals before a final decision is made. After this, the excitement will never be the same as previously experienced.

Regardless, it has been of great assistance, especially in tight calls where human judgment is unable to reach sometimes. This has changed the game significantly, with both gains and drawbacks.

Use of drones

We used to rely on camera operators to officiate matches solely. Today, that’s not the case anymore. We have drones that record games and are more reliable than physical camera operators. The drones have the ability to cover footage not even the most skilled cameramen can. These drones can be set to focus on where the action is. That is why we can catch glimpses of the most emotional fans, memorable sports moments, actions that no one would ever believe if they were never captured on camera, and so on.

While drones continue to take charge of sports coverage, it doesn’t mean camera operators will be phased out. Although, the photographers and videographers should play up their game to stay competitive. With the invasion and more advancement of technology, we will see most of their roles shift significantly.

Results optimization

There is a huge difference between watching a match live and doing it on TV. Well, while making it to the stadium makes the match more thrilling, watching at home comes with its own excitement as well. This is thanks to the AI developments. It is not correct to say AI exaggerates performance, but it enhances and makes it more entertaining. In fact, most people who watch sports in the comfort of their homes find it more fulfilling than some who visit stadiums for live events.

Drones and other amazing technologies are used to record these sporting events. The machines do a wonderful job in the production of sporting events. For instance, the World cup finals and Olympic events look so lively when watched on TV. You wouldn’t imagine leaving your seat even when the game is on break. That’s how impactful AI can be. It adds pomp to events and gets the viewers addicted.

Gaming

I have seen clips of people playing games with Augmented Reality. The videos are so funny you will laugh the whole day. Now, that’s not the point. What makes these gamers scared, excited, or even thrilled? It is the power of technology.

The technology makes the game so real. If you are playing with height, AI makes it so real you’ll feel like you’re on top of a 50-story building. It can be so chilling that some even scream for help. Others end up hurting themselves, trying to save themselves from the realities of AI. Technology has made gaming so real.

Training made better

If you compare sports today and previous decades, you’ll note a major difference. Why is it so, and where is the difference coming from? Well, AI has played a major role. Today, we have more machine-like players as compared to previous athletes. Today, you have to be twice as hardworking to be successful as before.

It is no longer about raw talent like it used to be. Previously, talent would take you places. Today, it’s about hard work. AI is being used to sharpen players in training and turning them into beast mode. 

For instance, AI was used to analyze Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness. He is one of the best footballers of all time and one of the fittest athletes world over.

Conclusion

AI is changing the world of sports. It is no longer about talent but technology too. Technology has played a critical in advancing every aspect of the game. It starts with training, the actual games, officiating games, production, and even video gaming. As we move forward, we await to see how much more change AI will bring. The technology is gaining momentum, and so will its impact on sports.