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IT adds a fresh dimension to sport

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure is a key differentiator within business.  Trade and industry, in general, is heavily dependent on technology to sustain operations, service and delivery.

The sport sector is a good example of the pervasive quality of IT and its level of influence, write Gary Naidoo, deputy MD at Sahara.

This globally entrenched, multi-level business generates huge profit and much of this can be attributed to innovation around systems and mass application.

Advanced communications infrastructure is inevitably drawn into the battle plans used by players, teams, coaches and clubs. It is the one common denominator recognised by all those with an interest in sport – both on and off the field.

Graeme Smith, captain of the Proteas and brand ambassador to Sahara, believes corporate sponsorship in sport has a role to play and it is up to all parties to participate in the process and add value.

“Both parties can definitely help each other. The concept of a sports person as a brand ambassador does help both parties. I think the time to really make it work is critical. We need to make the time to ensure quality end results. It requires input from all parties, that is key for me – it is easy to simply get involved in these things, but it is important, from a sports persons point of view, to add value to the company and to add value to the people they get involved with,” says Smith.

Mobile communication devices ensure that decisions made on the field are automatically communicated and publicized for the benefit of coaches, spectators and additional referees/ match officials.

Match statistics, performances and other data can be reviewed using the latest in interactive, multi-media infrastructure. Modern equipment is designed to pick up the smallest detail and capture all the action at high speed.

On the cricket pitch, for example, technology now exists that enables viewing of shots and all action at the crease is recorded and can be instantly played back from various angles.

Shots are measured to precise calculation, movements can be seen in realtime and the fourth umpire can be consulted for close calls. It all makes for interesting viewing and has resulted in an improvement of the ‘spectator value’ of the sport.

The same applies for television umpires that have to adjudicate on try-line scrambles or ‘off-the-ball’ incidents in rugby. The dynamics and rules may differ from sport to sport, but the basic principle of technology aiding the enforcement of rules and adding dimension to the game still applies.

The widespread use of technology in sport is part of the reason why IT companies have embraced the opportunity to become more involved.

The fact is that IT and sport are natural allies. Both are fast-paced, constantly evolving and both depend on proactive insight, training and performance.

ICT is about innovation, about convenience and about enhancing lifestyle. The sports market at large, which involves multi-level organization, logistics and application, is based on the same principles.

IT companies use this synergy to initiate sponsorship agreements in order to gain presence in – and leverage off the growth of sport. This is a formal agreement that benefits all parties. Sponsorship equals investment which assists in improved resources, facilities and talent.