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GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop moderates a panel with Mike Slade, who launched ESPN.com,
GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop moderates a panel with Mike Slade, who launched ESPN.com, Chris McGuire, senior director of sports marketing at Adidas America, and Brooks Sports CEO Jim Weber. Credit: Kevin Lisota

Data is touching every part of sports, from how people watch a game, to how they train, to the apparel they buy, and it’s only the beginning.

A panel of experts at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit discussed the future of sports and the role of technology and data.

These days, people don’t just go out and play a sport. Apps and programs abound to track results as well as training programs. Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running, said approximately 30 percent of runners, surveyed by the company, use some sort of device to track their progress.

“Whether it’s in a watch or in garments or underneath your skin there is going to be a place for (tracking devices), particularly for competitive athletes,” Weber said.

Brooks has an app called Run Signature. It measures how each person’s body wants to run naturally and then allows people at Brooks to see how the runner deviates from that ideal position. Based on that, Brooks employees can recommend the best shoes.

Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running talks the future of sports GeekWire's inaugural Sports Tech Summit. Credit: Kevin Lisota
Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running talks the future of sports GeekWire’s inaugural Sports Tech Summit. Credit: Kevin Lisota

Chris McGuire, senior director of sports marketing for Adidas America, said data collection will allow more customization of shoes and other athletic gear. He sees a future where customers can get their measurements taken, get fitted for custom shoes and then pick them up a few hours later.

Adidas is even looking at 3D printing shoes. 

Data and technology are changing how people consume sports. Presentation of sports on TV has changed dramatically in recent years, but with the exception of buying tickets, the in-stadium experience is still pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago, said Mike Slade, who launched ESPN.com and co-founded investment firm Second Avenue Partners.

Slade said augmented reality may be the next frontier in enhancing the live experience. He said it could help show fans advanced data that helps them better understand what’s happening.

“It’s true in every sport, the real-time data is useful for both the fan and the athlete,” Slade said.

GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop, ESPN creator Mike Slad and Adidas America Senior Director of Sports Marketing Chris McGuire discuss the role of data in sports. Credit: Kevin Lisota.
GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop, ESPN creator Mike Slade and Adidas America Senior Director of Sports Marketing Chris McGuire discuss the role of data in sports. Credit: Kevin Lisota.

One technology that could upend everything in sports is genetic mapping. The panelists specifically referred to Arivale, a Seattle-based startup co-founded by renowned genetics pioneer Dr. Lee Hood, that plans to blend comprehensive, cutting-edge genetic analysis with personal coaching — giving participants specific ways to take action to improve their overall health, meet their personal goals and minimize their long-term risk of disease.

Weber, who said he went through a beta test of the technology personally, said it can be used to build training regiments and prevent and recover from injuries.

“It’s going to take coaching to a whole new level,” Weber said. “It’s not just sensing your activity, it’s starting with who you are and building regiments around training and injury recovery and nutrition that are unique to you and you get to share it with who you want.”

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