Whether it’s using wearable devices to track fitness performance or hiring an in-house developer to whip up custom mobile apps, the Seattle Sounders are placing a priority on technology.
That was the message from Adrian Hanauer, the Sounders co-owner who served as the soccer club’s general manager for six years before handing off the reins in January to focus on business-related tasks.
Hanauer spoke at Saturday’s GeekWire Sounders Day, where we welcomed more than 400 people atop the EMC/Isilon deck for a pre-match tailgate party. He expressed enthusiasm and excitement with the intersection of sports and technology, and made it clear that the Sounders want to be known for being forward-thinking.
“We want to be the most innovative sports franchise in North America,” he said.
The Sounders have yet to miss the MLS playoffs in their six years of existence in the league, and technology is a contributor to that success. The club uses a number of wearable devices to closely track player performance during games, practices, and even sleep. This helps the team keep its players healthy, maximize output, prevent injury, and ultimately win more matches.
Earlier this year, Sounders Sporting Director Chris Henderson explained that the club focuses on three aspects of analytics: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive.
“Most teams don’t get past descriptive,” he said. “We want to get at prescriptive — the what, when, and why it happened.”
But Hanauer wants the Sounders to use more technology off the field, too, particularly when it comes to engaging fans. The Sounders now have a team of in-house software developers and Hanauer implored the crowd at Sounders Day to share any innovative ideas they have.
“This is a crowd of people that relates to how sports and technology intersect, and if you have ideas, please email us, find us, track us down, talk to the gang at GeekWire,” Hanauer said. “The best ideas are not currently coming from within sports — they are coming from outside of sports. … Some of the coolest ideas are coming from different walks of life and we’re really interested.”
Hanauer noted the “really cool convergence” of the technology world and sports, and particularly with soccer.
“This crowd is young, dynamic, educated, completely engaged, and passionate,” Hanauer said at Sounders Day. “That really corresponds well with our soccer demographic. It’s the young, up-and-coming sport … it’s just an awesome time to be in soccer.”
The Sounders aren’t the only club looking to use technology to get an advantage both in the win column and bottom line. When GeekWire attended the huge CES tech conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, we learned how the German national team made in-game personnel decisions during the World Cup based on player data it had from wearable devices.
Off the pitch, Real Madrid announced a four-year partnership with Microsoft in May that it said will “transform” how the club connects with fans and runs its business operations.
“Technology is a tool to bring fans together and create a relationship between us and them,” Real Madrid CEO José Ángel Sánchez told GeekWire in May. “We’re aren’t a software company, but in the end we admit that these technologies from Microsoft are really helping us transform the club. That is true.”