TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Can better tackling make football safer?
That’s the thesis behind Atavus Football, a Seattle-based startup that uses data analytics and rugby fundamentals to help football players with their tackling technique.
The company scored a big win this week after the Texas High School Coaches Association picked Atavus to oversee the certification process for a new mandatory statewide tackling certification program.
Atavus encourages players to make contact with their shoulder, keeping their head out of the tackle. The company’s “Tacklytics” platform uses video and data analysis to help coaches understand how well their players are tackling. It also offers a comprehensive online training program.
The 8-year-old company’s growth comes at a pivotal time for football, particularly at the youth level, where growing safety concerns are leading to declining participation numbers.
Atavus already works with the University of Washington, Ohio State, and other top-ranked college football programs. The company also inspired Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who has been celebrated around the NFL for the introduction and encouragement of the “Hawk Tackle.”
Atavus employs 23 people. It recently hired Ron Jenkins, a former vice president of corporate partnerships for the Seahawks, and Kenneth Purcell, previously a managing partner at Chartwell Capital Management. Its CEO is Karen Bryant, a former longtime president of the Seattle Storm.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- FIFA approved the use of video assistant replay, or VAR, for the World Cup later this year. The technology is controversial, but its impact has been “largely positive,” ESPN reported.
- CLEAR is adding its biometric security technology to three more MLB stadiums this year, including Safeco Field.
- There’s another new football league will start after the Super Bowl next year. The “Alliance of American Football” has a broadcast deal with CBS and is backed by top venture capitalists.
- New investment firm Oregon Sports Angels made its first investment, backing sports bra startup Handful.
- The Sacramento Kings debuted an “augmented reality prize cannon” during their third annual “Tech Night” at a game this week. Also see Kings owner Vivek Randivé address the recent Sacramento police shooting.
- The PGA Tour partnered with Xumo to develop a new streaming channel.
- FC Barcelona is using lots of technology to reinvent its home stadium Camp Nou.
- Opening Day is next week. R.B.I. Baseball, a video game developed by MLB Advanced Media, debuted this week. Here are some tips from ESPN and MLB.com for your fantasy baseball draft. And check out this ESPN piece on how “Moneyball” is now synonymous with the willingness to lose games.
- Stadia Ventures announced its Spring 2018 cohort: FocusMotion, GamerzArena, Spalk, and IdealSeat, a Seattle startup that I first wrote about in 2013.
- Reebok debuted Liquid Floatride Run, its latest running shoe developed with “3D Drawing.”
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper