Sport

Cricket World Cup 2015: How Technology Is Changing Our National Summer Sport

For many people, cricket evokes idyllic scenes of the sport being played on a village green by players dressed in white, stopping for a break to grab some tea and a sandwich, but such traditional scenes betray the game’s more recent relationship with technology both on and off the pitch.

Video replays have been used to help umpires decide on run outs for some time, but many broadcast technologies like hotspot, snicko and hawk-eye are now used in matches as part of the Decision Review System (DRS).

India has been a notable opponent of DRS, but most fans, players and observers accept that technology has changed the sport for the better. For the International Cricket Council (ICC), innovations mean that more correct decisions are being made than ever before. (more…)

NBA: Technology Is Essential For Basketball Expansion

The National Basketball Association (NBA) says technology and social media is helping the organisation spread its wings beyond North America and to recreate the arena experience for home viewers.

International expansion is a priority for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who was in London for a match between New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks at the O2, and said the sports industry had an advantage over other forms of entertainment because they’re best viewed live – making it difficult for viewers to skip adverts, and presumably turn to piracy.

However because most matches take place in the US or Canada, they are not particularly time-zone friendly to many markets, including the UK, making social engagement all the more important.

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Pixel Sport Meets Seb Coe: Technology Has Changed Sport Forever

A version of this article was originally published on TechWeekEurope. For more sports technology coverage click here.

Lord Sebastian Coe, the former chairman of the organising committee for London 2012 Olympic Games, says technology has changed sport in ways he couldn’t have imagined when competing in the 1500 metres and 800 metres in the 1970s and 80s.

Speaking during the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the current chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA), explained that IT has become an increasingly integral part of the planning process for major sporting events in order to keep up the increasing demands and expectations of athletes, officials, the media and spectators.

“Science and technology, in particular, have changed the way we train for sporting events, how we take part in them and how we experience them as spectators,” he said.

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Pixel Sport Meets Seb Coe: Rio 2016 Will Be A Success And Urges Hampden To Keep The Track

Lord Sebastian Coe’s career as a sports administrator has been so successful it’s sometimes easy to forget he was a brilliant athlete too, winning gold in the 1500 metres at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and silver in the 800 metres in both of those years.

The former chairman of the organising committee of the 2012 London Olympic Games and the current chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and one of three vice presidents of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has quite the CV.

When he talks about a major sporting event, people listen, which is why his views on the Rio Olympics, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the future of the Paralympics mean something. Fortunately for Rio, he is bound by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to share his wisdom and experiences of organising an Olympic Games, something he is more than happy to do.

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Glasgow 2014: How Tech Helped Elinor Barker Win Silver And Bronze

This is an updated version of article that appeared on TechWeekEurope. For more sports technology coverage click here.

There was a time when a half-time orange and the magic sponge where the height of technological innovation in sport, but in 2014, sporting federations and teams have armies of coaches, sport scientists and nutritionists whose job is to extract every ounce of performance from their athletes.

Video and data analysis is now used in almost every part of professional sport and cycling is no exception. For Great Britain’s world champion cyclist Elinor Barker, it helps her train, understand and improve her performances and help her fight the battle against doping.

Barker, winner of the team pursuit event at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, won silver in the 25km points race and bronze in the 10km scratch race at the Commonwealth Games and is adamant that technology has helped her in her preparation.

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Glasgow 2014: The Commonwealth Games Are More Than Just ‘S**t’

Bolt’s alleged discretions aside, the comparisons between Glasgow 2014 and London 2012 were inevitable and unfair. With so many countries excluded because they never had the dubious honour of being invaded by the British (or were so unhappy with its rule that they left the Commonwealth), the standard in many sports was always going to be lower than the Olympics of a World Championships.

This much was evident from the moment Glasgow won the right to host the twentieth commonwealth games in 2007 and it didn’t seem to bother the Scottish public, the 15,000 volunteers and many of the participants, who were either delighted by their triumphs or distraught by their defeats. It’s clear they don’t share Bolt’s supposed claims that the Commonwealth Games are “a bit shit”.

The empty arenas of Delhi were replaced by passionate crowds in sporting theatres old and new – the Hydro, Ibrox and Hampden Park –  the latter of which just looks as though it was made for athletics. The ethos of the friendly games was maintained with support offered for all nations, not just the Scots, but on the courts, pitches, floors and tracks, there were plenty of people desperate to bring home gold.

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Glasgow 2014: The Politics Of The Commonwealth Games

And so the ‘friendly games’ begin. An opening ceremony filled with humour, tartan and an inexplicable amount of John Barrowman marked the start of the twentieth Commonwealth Games, a postcolonial curiosity has managed to endure almost a century of drastic political change.

Naturally a home games will always attract more attention in the UK, but Glasgow 2014 feels like a big deal. The enthusiasm of the host city is a marked change from the disinterest that greeted Delhi four years ago and despite injury and one or two exceptions, the Commonwealth’s biggest athletes are mostly here – including Usain Bolt.

This is Scotland’s chance to build on the momentum generated by London 2012 and the Rugby League World Cup last year and continue it onto the Rugby World Cup in 2015, as the UK’s ‘Golden Decade’ of sport continues.

But there’s an unavoidable elephant in the room – the issue of Scottish independence. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised he won’t politicise the games, but many will be waiting to see what kind of impact, if any, the games have on the referendum in September.

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Technology Aids Wimbledon In Quest To Be The Most Prestigious Grand Slam Of All

So in the end there was no fairy-tale ending for Roger Federer at this year’s Wimbledon. The perennial crowd favourite lost an epic final in five sets to Novak Djokovic, having saved championship point in the fourth. Djokovic was as graceful in victory as Federer was in defeat, hoping that he will have one more shot at Wimbledon glory before his illustrious career – arguably the greatest ever – comes to an end.

It was a different kind of final to the one that preceded it, when, on a tension-filled day on Centre Court, Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77 year wait for a British male winner – but not before subjecting us to one last excruciating game before the famous drought was ended.

But walking around the All-England Club (AELTC) last week, it was though nothing had changed from last year. The overpriced Pimm’s and Strawberries and Cream were still served, the queues still formed in Wimbledon Park and Henman Hill, the physical manifestation of the modern British obsession with finding a  homegrown Wimbledon champion, was as busy as ever.

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World Cup 2014: Multi-Ethnic Switzerland Advance In Brazil Amid Immigration Debate Back Home

This World Cup has been the best anyone can remember thanks to teams throwing caution to the wind and playing an enterprising brand of attacking football, resulting in plenty of goals and entertaining matches.

Even the traditionally conservative Swiss have been caught up in the excitement, progressing to the second round thanks to a late victory against Ecuador, a 5-2 defeat against France and a convincing 3-0 victory over Honduras.

This has set up a date with Argentina in the last 16 on Tuesday and Switzerland’s performance has been lauded by the Swiss media, which says the ghosts of South Africa, where Switzerland exited the group stage despite beating eventual champions Spain, have been laid to rest.

Blick declared the team had “graduated with flying colours” and “The business is done, now for fun. We’ll dance a tango with Argentina.” Neue Zürcher Zeitung agreed, stating the team had “met its target” and could play their second round match without pressure. State broadcaster SFR speculates Switzerland have acquired 200 million Brazilian fans, hoping Die Nati can dump Argentina out of the competition.

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Gillingham 2-2 AFC Wimbledon: Gills And Mad Dog Have Their Day In The Sun

Gillingham Priestfield (5)

Gillingham secured the point they needed to clinch the League Two title on Saturday, the club’s second ever championship and first since winning Division Four in 1963-64.

A capacity crowd of 11,172 attended the 2-2 draw with AFC Wimbledon, the most since September 2003 when West Ham were the visitors and just shy of the 11,605 that saw Gillingham take on Maidstone United in the first ever league Kent derby in 1989.

The Priestfield Stadium was bathed in sunshine and the game took place in an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at the ground, comparable only to the two Wembley play-off finals in 2000 and 2009.

It was a fitting end to a brilliant season for The Gills, who return to the third tier of English football for the first time in three years, although they were made to work for their draw by AFC Wimbledon, who are fighting for their league survival.

Soak up the sun

Gillingham dominated the first half in terms of possession and chances, with striker Deon Burton putting them ahead after 12 minutes. The lead was doubled less than ten minutes later when Chris Whelpdale found space on the left flank to find Danny Kedwell, who headed the ball home against his former club, and Gillingham looked as though they were cruising towards an historic achievement.

The home side started the second half the brighter of the two teams, but around the hour mark, Wimbledon began to make their presence felt. Dons striker Jack Midson scored after 65 minutes, beginning a period of dominance for the visitors.

Gillingham had looked so assured and composed, but Wimbledon were forcing them into mistakes and frantic last ditch defending. An inevitable equaliser was scored by Jonathan Meades and Gills fans were left wondering if there was going to be a repeat of last season, when they squandered a 3-1 lead to lose 3-4.

Gillingham Wimbledon 2

Great achivement

Port Vale’s inability to beat Northampton meant that even defeat would clinch the championship, but that was not an option for the Gills, who held strong to secure the point, prompting wild celebrations and the now customary pitch invasion.

Once the PA announcer’s desperate calls for the fans to return their seats were obeyed, the players and manager began to reflect on what has been an astonishing season for the club.

“Amazing, 10 months of hard work. They’ve just kept going, getting points, breaking records, the first title Gillingham have won for 50 years and to be the manager on this special day is a magnificent feeling,” an emotional Martin Allen told BBC Radio Kent. “This is the best highlight of my career. I’m the worst Allen in the Allen family. The others are multi-talented, and for me, to be nicknamed Mad Dog just because I tackled people and make a living from football, and to be known as a manager who keeps clubs up, to be champions is unbelievable.

“It’s a lottery win, Christmas Day, money can’t buy that. Priceless moment.”

The club were last promoted from League Two in 2009 through the play-offs under Mark Stimson, only to be relegated the following season. However that was a different team, who could have avoided the drop had they won just one away game all season. It’s difficult to remember the last time Gillingham played as well as they are doing now and if they can continue this momentum, their next spell in League One could last longer than a solitary campaign.