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SportTechie: Spotting the Key Innovation Trends

Daniel Kaufman, Managing Director of the SportTechie innovation information and intelligence platform, brings his expertise on key trends in sports innovation.

Based in Washington, D.C., Dan has long experience at the intersection of sports and technology with SportTechie and teaching sports law, contracts, and negotiation at Georgetown, having negotiated collective bargaining agreements for the MLB umpires and NBA referees unions, and held senior roles in the sports and entertainment agency business.

ThinkSport asked Dan for his thoughts on the innovation trends that have been shaping the business during the past year. The key areas below are presented in no particular order of importance.

Betting in North America

“I don’t think this was the biggest thing happening during the past year. It was the biggest story in 2018. But the impact is growing. Betting has accelerated the data push. It’s all about how quickly you can capture data and utilize it. Speed is so important because organisations want to be out there with their data for their betting products before someone else jumps in.”

Athlete Performance

“There is an emerging focus on load management – how innovation can help athletes balance playing and training and rest in order to maximize their performance. We’re seeing that players need rest. Injuries are more likely to happen if they don’t get it.  Managing their workloads is crucial and tech can help with that. Load management isn’t only a matter of winning games, it’s of commercial importance. Fans buy tickets and they come to a game to see their favourite player and they get there and find out he’s not playing because he’s injured or exhausted. Load management is about trying to avoid those surprises from happening and tech is making that possible.”

Virtual Sports

“Imagine being able to sit on a stationary bicycle and be part of a peloton on a screen and take part in the Tour de France in real time. Or you could play in a game virtually. The consumer potential of virtual sports is only part of the picture. This kind of innovation is starting to have an impact on the way athletes and teams practice and train. It’s already emerging in American football as a way for teams to train without the contact of blocking and tackling. That means less physical pressure on the athletes.”


“The sport of baseball has continued to change dramatically with the impact of stats-based thinking about how to play better and win more games. Moneyball has altered the whole mindset of the sport and stimulated the growth of a whole new generation of innovation. We have seen the trend of playing the game in line with data getting stronger. As the emphasis has shifted towards hitting home runs, swing mechanics have come to the fore and there are new tools to measure swing path and track the ball. Data analysis is also used to make decisions on the positioning of fielders.”

The Phone

“What’s the most important technology pushing innovation and changing sports? It’s very possibly the mobile phone and innovation in the mobile sector is continuous. Portable devices are transforming the way people consume sports as fans and enjoy them as participants. As mobile technology advances, the importance of the phone will only grow.”