Changing the Game

Sports fans here in the greater Boston area go through a cycle that has occurred almost every year within recent memory: In September, we mourn the decline of the Red Sox who started the baseball season with such promise.

And then, to numb the pain, we look forward to another great football year from the New England Patriots. 2006 is, as Yogi would say, deja vu all over again for Boston sports fans.

However, we can also look forward to the fact that pro football will be more connected to technology than baseball. Perhaps that’s because football gets a fraction of the air-time that baseball gets. Both franchise owners and TV produces figure they have to maximize the fan experience.

It started with instant replays that were so precise that even the refs decided to use it. Why not umpires? Go figure.

The Green Monster

Coming soon will be another way Red Sox fans can try to relive the halcyon days of 2004—thanks to Curt Schilling, the heroic pitcher who helped defeat the hated Yankees in 2004 while playing with a painful ankle injury.

Curt recently founded Green Monster Games (borrowing the name from the famous left-field wall in Fenway Park). Green Monster will produce Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games where fans and players are one and the same. For sure, baseball will be included.

Curt won’t be the first MMO game producer. Far from it. The NBA already has one. The NFL has one too. In fact there are probably hundreds of MMO games. There’s even OGaming Radio. Fans of MMO play in a fantasy world where the season never ends, and success is not determined by physical prowess and agility, but by wile and wit.

Back to Reality

The problem, at least for some of us however, is that MMO is a fantasy world. What about the real world? Here, the increased use of technology both on and off the playing field to enhance performance is gradually changing the nature of many sporting events in ways that may or may not be apparent in real time as the event unfolds.

Here are three examples:

Auto Racing – Pit crews can monitor between ten and fifty channels of wireless sensor data that are continuously streaming metrics such as engine temperature, RPM, brake pressure, ride-height, steering, and tire-pressures to name just a few.

The data vehicle is remotely monitored, in real-time, by the pit-crew (with the exception of NASCAR events which preclude this technology during an event). The instant the car rolls into the pit, the crew knows what to do.