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The Rise of AI in Youth Sports Industry

7 Aug, 2019

By: Michael Popke
Connected Sports Campuses Leveraging New Marketing Points

Who’s one of the most valuable players in youth sport? Artificial intelligence. AI is infiltrating the industry quickly with connected coverage of sports venues that enables coaches and event owners to help grow sports and provide visibility to athletes.

SportsTechie.com reports the AI-driven PlaySight video platform (which currently provides practice coverage of major NCAA programs and broadcast footage of Belgian pro basketball) will be installed at the LakePoint Sporting Community — a sprawling youth sports facility in Emerson, Ga., with eight full-sized baseball diamonds, three multipurpose fields and 170,000 square feet of indoor court space.

PlaySight reportedly will use more than 100 cameras to provide a platform for players, parents, coaches, scouts, and fans to watch livestreams of all competitions, access performance analytics and compile highlight reels. LakePoint will be PlaySight’s first SmartCampus project, according to SportsTechie.

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association recently partnered with the basketball training app HomeCourt to make it a key component of the league’s worldwide youth basketball development initiatives. The app uses a smartphone camera to track and chart shots and other practice drill performances in real time, and then provides instant video review and statistical analysis

“In the year since its launched, HomeCourt has logged more than 25 million shots, 20 million dribbles, 3.5 million minutes, with users across 170 countries,” according to FastCompany.com. With that scale and accessibility, the NBA is hoping it’ll help more efficiently identify and discover basketball talent around the world.”

“This is just a bull’s-eye for us in terms of a product that will allow us to grow the game of basketball globally,” NBA chief innovation officer Amy Brooks told the website. “It democratizes the ability for us to find elite players globally, but more broadly, it gives so many people fun incentives to play basketball. Kids can challenge their siblings, their teammates, [and] there’s coaching applications.”

AI, not surprisingly, also is playing a major role in the esports movement. Earlier this year, IBM presented its AI-driven vision for the future of esports shoutcasting by using Watson (the information’s own AI system) to improve player performance in esports and create a better overall fan experience.

“IBM developers and open-source experts are also developing ways to help gaming event promoters lure fans using enhanced video and feeding important information to live commentators, and the IBM Cloud is increasing global scale for developers and publishers,” the company told entertainment news source Variety.com.

Meanwhile, Speedgateis being hailed as the “first sport designed from the ground up by artificial intelligence” — a so-called “pet project” of the San Francisco-based digital agency AKQA that combines elements of soccer, rugby and croquet.

According to Speedgate’s website, AKQA’s AI systems “processed over 400 popular sports from around the world. We used deep learning [text-generating and image-generating] algorithms to create ideas for every aspect of this new, unique sport — from the gameplay to the rules and even the logo. More than 1,000 outputs were analyzed and narrowed down to 10 potential concepts. Three were field tested.”

The result is Speedgate. Confused? Or want to know more or maybe even set up your own Speedgate game? Click here, here and here to learn more.

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