These days, most of us probably know a sports fan that uses a tablet to keep up with their favorite team. What may not be quite as obvious is just how pervasive tablets are becoming among athletes, sports franchises and leagues. Here’s a sampling:
- In the locker room & on the bus. Tablets are having an impact on college-level sports, too. As we remarked in our earlier post on Tablets in Higher Ed, student athletes use these highly portable devices (along with specialized apps) to stay current with assignments during away-game travels.
- In coaching sessions. Thousands of teams use apps like QuickCoach and The Coach’s Eye, designed to collect, manage, optimize and display video. Coaches and players in virtually any sport use this kind of app to analyze athletic performance—tennis strokes, golf swings, soccer moves, you name it. Often the best place to review that video? Right on the field, court or driving range, where athletes can see how they’re moving and make adjustments.That’s where tablets come in: most of these apps allow users to view video (and sometimes capture it) with tablets. The devices we described in our post on tablets optimized for outdoor use will doubtless come in handy for this work.
- In league marketing units. Many major sports leagues offer downloadable apps, some tablet-optimized, for fan entertainment—and, just as importantly, to promote sales of tickets, tours, logo-wear and more. MLB At Bat, NHL GameCenter, NFL Game Center, NBA Game Time and the like are usually offered as free, basic apps along with paid, enhanced versions.
- In sports leagues. Tablet-based apps like Gamechanger provide scorekeeping, stats, live streaming video and game recap stories for use by amateur softball and baseball teams.
- In athletic scouting. Athletes and coaches watch games on tablets, too—their own and those of other teams. It’s a great way to study up on a future opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
- In the serious business of fantasy. Fans of fantasy sports, who manage their own make-believe teams, can use specialized tablet apps to track crucial player stats in near-real time. Why rely on unreliable human beings when a tablet app can help you analyze player trades? These apps are so good, real athletic scouts use them to help identify prospects for their very real teams.
- In stadiums. With Wi-Fi almost universally available at these venues, plenty of spectators enhance their experience by viewing instant replays, distant games, and, we suppose, the occasional music video (especially if the game happens to be a yawner). But what about the stadium itself? At least one venue—San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of baseball’s Giants—uses a custom stadium tour app, placed on 60 tablets, to enhance the experience of visiting patrons who want a behind-the-scenes look.
- In the NFL: any time but game time. In National Football League games, tablets (along with most other electronic devices) are conspicuously absent. League rules ban their use any time within 90 minutes of game time, theoretically to keep the playing field level and to preserve some of the game’s traditional character. That’s why you’ll see coaches and players staring at laminated cards instead of touch screens.After the game, however (and every other day of the week) players and coaches are highly engaged with tablet devices. More and more NFL teams use them to study play diagrams and review game footage—instead of being forced to lug around thick playbook binders or gather in a screening room.
And this year, tablets at the Olympics. A quick survey reveals at least two tablet-friendly apps of interest for this summer’s games: London 2012 Join In, from the official organizing committee in London; and 2012 Team USA Road to London from the US Olympic Committee. For those lucky enough to load the apps on their tablets and take them to the games, they won’t be disappointed: British Telecom is making this the first Olympic Games providing Wi-Fi throughout, to the public as well as to coaches, athletes and organizers.
Every aspect of sports—the business, the play, the players, venues and fans—provides ample opportunity for specialized apps and devices. What about your business, your industry? Tell us about what you’re doing (or plan to do) with tablets to enhance activities where you work.