Technology and data are revolutionizing basketball, from the style of play to how players train and workout.
But some of the big innovations in data that are driving more conversations and interest in the NBA and men’s basketball haven’t made their way to the women’s game. Sue Bird wants that to change.
At the 2017 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit, the WNBA legend and Seattle Storm star said the volume of stats available for fans and players of the WNBA just doesn’t stack up to the NBA. Bird wants to see the same level of statistics available for past and present WNBA players as well. That way, a fan can compare between legends like Cheryl Miller and current stars like Breanna Stewart.
“It starts conversations and that’s what our league needs, it needs to be talked about, and that’s how you get it out there and get people to be involved and become fans,” Bird said.
NFL players get instant feedback on their play via Microsoft Surfaces, and NBA coaching staffs hand players tablets when they sub out of the game to get a second look at what they just experienced. But this is lacking in the WNBA, mostly for financial reasons.
“We don’t have necessarily the means to have some of that technology in our every day,” Bird said. “I don’t think you’re going to see any of us with an iPad on the bench any time soon.”
As the tech continues to improve, Bird sees opportunities in virtual reality. In the offseason, she practices against players without the same level of basketball knowledge as WNBA pros so she’s not getting the full experience. Bird imagined a world where she could put on some VR goggles, and play simulated games against her rivals and customize the game situations in order to work on specifics aspects of her game.
“To go out and play against a WNBA team but dictate the whole scenario to things I need to work on — so I’m always shooting, basically — and figure that out, that would be amazing,” Bird said.