ASM Global says that nearly 7,000 people attended last month’s VeeCon at the Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium. The convention was hosted by social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk and required guests to purchase an NFT ticket for entry, which ASM Global claims as a first for the events industry.  
ASM Global operates more than 300 sports and entertainment venues, including the Vikings’ stadium. The inaugural VeeCon was held May 19-22 and included 154 speakers such as former NBA star Baron Davis, retired NFL running back Ricky Williams and former UFC fighter Chuck Liddell. VeeCon says it sold 10,255 NFT tickets before the event, and each includes access to VeeCon for the next three years. May’s event generated a $21 million economic impact for Minneapolis, according to organizers. 
Major leagues such as the NFL and MLB have both debuted non-fungible tokens as commemorative ticket keepsakes, but the blockchain-based assets do not permit access to any game or event. Instead, the NFTs are intended to serve as a digital collectible akin to the ancient paper ticket stub, but fans still need to purchase a standard digital ticket for entry into the game.  
Apple Original Films is delving even deeper into sports filmmaking after signing a first-look deal with Nike’s production company to create and stream athletic-centric documentaries.
According to Deadline, Apple will collaborate with Nike’s Waffle Iron Entertainment and Brad Weston’s production studio Makeready to capitalize on the recent surge of streamed sports films and narratives.   
Apple—which won an Emmy for its Ted Lasso series and recently released a four-part Magic Johnson docuseries on Apple TV+— will finance and distribute the films, Deadline reported. Justin Biskin of Waffle Iron will produce the content along with Weston and Collin Creighton of Makeready. Weston’s “The Fighter’’ was recently nominated for an Oscar.
A two-year-old company, Apple Original Films is also involved in scripted films such as a pending Formula One racing project that will star Brad Pitt and be directed by Joseph Kosinski (who also directed Top Gun: Maverick). Apple TV+ has already transitioned into live sports this spring, streaming Friday night Major League Baseball games using burgeoning technology and betting analytics from the company nVenue
Apple TV+ is also streaming “Greatness Code,’’ focused on what drives athletes such as Lindsey Vonn and Russell Wilson to succeed, and is also releasing a documentary on the New England Patriots’ dynasty, produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and NFL Films.
Play-to-earn gaming startup Atmos Labs has raised $11 million to accelerate development of its sports metaverse. The company plans to build blockchain-backed sports-themed games that include aspects of virtual reality, cryptocurrency and collectible NFTs. 
NFT-focused investment firm Sfermion led Atmos’s seed funding round, which also included investments from firms such as Animoca Brands and CoinGecko Ventures. Animoca Brands is notably also the developer of the virtual world gaming platform The Sandbox 
“We’re committed to building a world in which players can generate value from gameplay, own and trade interoperable assets in non-exclusive marketplaces, and govern the ecosystems they helped create,” Dylan Bushnell, Atmos Labs’ VP of game design, said in a statement.  
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott trialed Riddell’s innovative Axiom helmet at Cowboys’ OTAs recently, intrigued by its custom fit and built-in impact sensing capabilities.
Elliott’s backfield teammate Tony Pollard also wore the smart helmet as its sensor technology continues to grow in popularity. During spring college football practices, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel also wore the head gear, which is customized through Riddell’s “Tru-Fit System” and transmits analytics from head impacts to the company’s software in real time. 
The attraction for Elliott and Pollard, among others, is that the helmet’s sensors measure load impact from collisions, including what part of the head took the hardest hit (front, top, right, left, back). The information can then be seen by coaches and trainers through Riddell’s InSite Analytics platform, which allows the training staff to monitor head injuries more accurately. 
Asked why he switched from his previous Riddell “Speedflex’’ model to the Axiom smart helmet, Elliott told reporters, “It has the same safety ratings, but it’s a lighter helmet—so I’m going to try it out. I think it’s the same helmet, but they did a more precision fit…It’s just a newer helmet, you know. They come out with the new Ford F-150, you know what I’m saying? You got the old one, you want the new one.”
Aura Air, which promotes itself as a smart air company, will leverage its technology to purify the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility. 
In a multi-year partnership, Aura Air says it will deploy 88 smart air purifiers inside the Pistons’ Performance Center to combat the spread of COVID-19, to minimize “the impacts of climate change’’ and to educate the Detroit community on the benefits of clean air. 
The Pistons will be able to operate Aura’s recently launched Aura Web Platform to monitor its facility at all times. During 2022-23 home games, Aura Air will also place over 700 video screens at Little Caesars Arena to teach fans more about purified air. 
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been a proponent of purified air, investing last September in a company called Molekule that invents purifier devices. The FDA classified Molekule’s air filters as Class II medical devices for their ability to eliminate bacteria and viruses, and Love has cited research that links poor air quality to mental illness.
Financial services giant Fiserv says its Clover Sport point-of-sale system has expanded to more than 300 sports and entertainment venues to process in-stadium concessions and retail orders. The participating venues include Citi Field in New York, Footprint Center in Phoenix and Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Bypass Mobile, a point-of-sale software Fiserv acquired in 2020, will now operate under the company’s Clover Sport brand identity. Clover Sport combines Bypass’s back-end software with point-of-sale hardware from Clover, which Fiserv acquired from First Data Corporation in 2019.
Clover Sport powers self-service commerce at venues through mobile phone payments, kiosks and grab and go marketplaces. The system allows operators to integrate third-party platforms for loyalty and rewards programs, in-app mobile ordering, digital ticketing and merchandise sales from stadium retailers.
The NHL took its first step into the metaverse during Saturday’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
During the “Third Period Live” shoulder programming, the league’s digital media platforms incorporated Beyond Sports’ technology, which renders the players in 3D based on their NHL Edge tracking data. Available either in virtual reality or on traditional 2D screens, Beyond Sports replicated the players as “Blockies,” block-shaped cartoons who mirror the on-ice action. 
Third Period Live is hosted by Jillian Sakovits, Julie Stewart Binks and a number of current and former players. It can be seen on NHL social channels, including its YouTube page.
Beyond Sports’ product was on display at the NHL’s recent technology showcase in the Prudential Center, at which Beyond Sport CTO and co-founder Nicolaas Westerhof said, “We can make characters look like anything you want—it doesn’t have to be realistic. It can be a fun character, in this case aimed especially at the kids. The younger generation are just not as engaged anymore with watching television in the linear way. They’re not sitting on the couch watching TV for three hours watching the game, so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make it more fun for them.”
Graduate students from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, have won the NFL’s fourth annual Big Data Bowl sponsored by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The winning students—Robyn Ritchie, Brendan Kumagai, Ryker Moreau and Elijah Cavan—mark the first college team to win the data analytics competition and the first to include a women champion in Ritchie.
This year’s Big Data Bowl had more than 200 participants and challenged applicants to analyze NFL special teams plays to determine what strategies make for a successful punt, field-goal or extra-point play. Participants had access to scouting data from Pro Football Focus and player-tracking data from the NFL’s Next Gen Stats that included speed, direction and location metrics for all NFL special teams players during games from 2018-20.
The winning team analyzed video on punt returns to create an algorithm that displays the optimal path for a runner on punt returns based on the position of blockers and defenders and whether the returner took advantage of those gaps. The team created a new stat called Return Yards Above Expected to evaluate a punt returner’s decision making.
“It really originally started with the convex hull that quantifies the space the team is taking up,” Ritchie told AWS. “Where are they around the punt returner? And that’s where we really started and that took us the whole first month. Eventually, I asked, can we find our way through the convex hull? And then it just kind of snowballed. We had so many different ideas to bring in, like blocker leverages, the convex hull, the modeling aspects, and the optimal path.”
Finalists for this year’s Big Data Bowl were competing for a $100,000 prize pool. This year’s panel of judges included New England Patriots special teamer Cody Davis, who has a master’s degree in data science from Texas Tech. Since the NFL and AWS hosted the first Big Data Bowl in 2019, more than 30 contestants have been hired to analytics positions across the sports industry.
Stats Perform is launching its new live Opta Vision product to merge tracking and event data for soccer matches in the 2022-23 season.
Opta has been a leading provider of event data for years, feeding sports books and media companies. SportVU 2.0 is the company’s optical tracking system. The new Opta Vision will sync the datasets and use Stats Perform’s Qwinn AI to develop further insights. Opta Vision’s tracking data will include stadium feeds from camera systems installed at match venues and, for the first time, remote tracking collection from video sources. Among the new metrics measured are pass predictions, formation analysis of a team’s shape and pressure intensity.
Stats Perform is already a data partner of the English Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, MLS, Eredivisie and the Chinese Super League.
Stadiums for three top Dutch soccer clubs have begun deploying “smart technology” to detect and identify fans who commit racist and discriminatory behavior during matches. The technology includes in-venue cameras, artificial intelligence, and sound equipment. 
The participating clubs are PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord, which both play in the top-tier Eredivisie, and the third club is PEC Zwolle, which played in Eredivisie last season but has been relegated to the second-tier Eerste Divisie for the 2022-23 season. The systems to deter negative fan behavior will vary at each venue. PSV’s Philips Stadion will use cameras to monitor crowd chants, and AI will be used to detect concerning sounds. A human operator then listens to the audio to determine necessary action.
“The initiatives comply with Dutch privacy laws and regulations and should contribute to a more positive sports culture in football stadiums,” Dutch soccer’s KNVB said in a statement.  
The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) is leading the pilot program, which the Netherlands government’s Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has committed more than $1 million to help finance. Dutch soccer says it will consider expanding the program to a fourth stadium later this year. 
“After one year, it should become clear whether, and how, these smart technologies have helped to identify racism and discrimination and to identify those responsible,” the KNVB said. 
The added fan surveillance in Dutch stadiums comes after Mexico’s top soccer league moved to deploy facial recognition cameras in stadiums following a violent brawl between fans in March. In another move to combat online abuse from fans, the English Premier League and four players are among those backing OPON, a social media app that requires users to upload identification to access certain features.  
IMG Academy is expanding its use of Connexa Sports Technologies’ PlaySight cameras to include all 55 of its tennis courts at its Bradenton, Fla., campus. PlaySight initially provided its AI-powered cameras and video analysis for IMG’s baseball program beginning in 2020.
Tennis tech company Slinger acquired PlaySight Interactive for $82 million in a deal first announced last October. The merged group, which also includes GameFace.AI and Foundation Tennis, rebranded as Connexa Sports Technologies in May as part of a unified effort to equip connected, smart sports facilities. PlaySight products are also used in the NBA, MLB and NHL. 
PlaySight is best known for its work in tennis, which began at its founding in 2015. It streams and analyzes video automatically and is used by more than 100 collegiate tennis programs as well as numerous national tennis federations. The IMG Academy began as the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978 before IMG acquired and renamed it after adding other sports. Among its famous alums are Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.


Write A Comment