At their core, sports are inherently physical — you throw, you catch, you hit and you run. Those aspects are likely never to change, but other parts, such as officiating and training, are evolving with the times and becoming increasingly digital.
From accelerometers in game balls to AI-assisted decision making, startups and big-name tech companies alike are reinventing how things are done and giving professionals new insights.
For instance, Omega, a legacy Swiss watchmaker, debuted new camera tracking tech alongside its sponsorship of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The company’s innovation analyzes data on jumps in figure skating events and assists referees with false start detection in speed skating.
But the benefits of sports tech don’t stop on the sidelines.
“There are just so many adjacent markets that can open beyond sports,” Brian Moore, the CEO of Irish sports performance and data science company Orreco told Crunchbase. “When you’re analyzing the effects of sleep and travel and other things, that data applies to so many different areas of people’s lives.”
The world of sports tech isn’t just gaining traction with coaches and athletes, its also catching on with investors, who poured a record $1.4 billion into 183 startups in 2020. Through the first eight months of 2021, sports tech startups pulled in $787 million across 103 deals, while this is a dip from the year prior it is almost twice as much as the $432 million invested in 2019.
To learn more about the subject, we took a look at three companies using tech to change sports and create change on and off the field in 2022.
WHOOP is more than just a noise that fans exude — it is also a brand innovating the next wave of performance optimization technology. The Boston-based startup raised a $100 million Series E in October 2021 and counts NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes and NBA superstar Kevin Durant among its investors. WHOOP’s wearable technology and the accompanying platform allow coaches and physicians to view and monitor athletes’ vital signs during games and discover brand-new insights. For example, WHOOP revealed that in last week’s playoff win, Mahomes’s trainer found that many of the quarterback’s heartbeat spikes actually occurred when he was on the sidelines watching game-changing plays unfold.
FieldLevel takes aim at modernizing a completely different aspect of American sports: the college recruiting process. Founded in 2006, the company functions as a private social network and matchmaking platform that allows coaches, athletes and teams to connect with each other. As a result, FieldLevel is helping remove barriers for student-athletes and smaller colleges who may never have had the resources or visibility to find an opportunity to play sports in college. Currently, over 101,000 teams are on the platform and the company has helped generate more than 106,000 commitments from student-athletes to play for college-level teams.
Founded in 2006, this next venture has developed software that analyzes performance analytics and team trends across the nation. Hudl, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based tech company, has also created its own auto-tracking sports camera built to record the entirety of football and soccer fields during practice and games. The company’s camera and software captures players' movements and gives coaches the ability to enhance their tagging, spotting and grading to create tendency and efficiency reports. The company’s electronic eye in the bleachers can be leveraged to make sure the right player is in the right spot in the most crucial moments and recognizes patterns that might need to be corrected in practice.