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How does tech enhance your sports experience

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In case the little logo at the top didn't clue you in, this is a sponsored post. Samsung wants to get the word out about different ways that tech can enhance the experience of watching sports, and they are willing to dish out a little scratch to achieve it. The topic is open ended, open to interpretation, and does not need to actually be driven by a Samsung product in any way, so there are lots of ways to take this.

Wait a minute, a tech company wants to pay me to write a few words about how tech enhances the sports experience? I'm pretty sure that right there qualifies as tech enhancing my sports experience. Done and done. Man, am I good at this or what?

Seriously though, there are so many possibilities to bring up here. Tech and sports are both a major part of just about everybody's lives, and the two have integrated seamlessly. Whether it's never being out of touch with scores, messing with your fantasy team from anywhere in the world, or having greater access to athletes than ever before, the number of ways that tech makes you a better fan, and makes being a fan better, are limitless. So I figured I'd start at the foundation of the sports experience. You know ... sports. Because there is no doubt that tech makes sports, actual sports, better.

The obvious topic is instant replay. You'll find a few purists out there who believe that instant replay ruins the spirit of the game, and a few more ADD-types who don't like that instant replay slows games down, but by and large, people support instant replay, because in the end, it helps to make sure that what happens on the field/court/ice is what should happen. Getting calls right should be a priority in any sport, and at the very least, instant replay does no harm to that cause (you know, unless you are the Lakers playing against the Celtics in the NBA Finals ... but I digress). Obviously, without tech, we wouldn't have instant replay, but tech advances have made instant replay more reliable. The combination of slow motion and high definition allows us to get a clear idea of the right and wrong call for 70-80% of the stuff that we look at, which is a big improvement over the roughly 50-50 chance an official might have of getting an impossible call right the first time, and allows us 100% chance to overturn obviously wrong calls made due to human error.

Step away from basketball, and instant replay plays a more important role, with tech playing a more important role in instant replay. Football uses replay extensively, including camera angles which weren't previously possible. Hockey uses instant replay to determine goals, and a goal is a far more important event than a possession in basketball. But, far and away, the most impressive use of instant replay is in tennis. Lots of you might not watch tennis, it's very much a niche sport, but instant replay in tennis is ... well, it's #$%^ing amazing.

In tennis, they don't watch instant replay to ensure correct calls, they create instant replay to ensure correct calls. They have a system of 6 high speed cameras for each side of the court that analyze trajectory, speed, and spin and use it all to calculate exactly where the ball lands, including the skid of the ball! All of this is accurate to within the width of your fingernail. The system can make upwards of a billion calculations in a single point. And the best part? It's usage is at player discretion (they have a limited number of challenges, but it is a very high limit), is nearly instantaneous (from challenge to resolution doesn't usually take more than 10-15 seconds), and they display the results right there on the big screen (assuming the court has one) so that instant replay is actually part of the fan interaction. Tennis' instant replay is so awesome, fans actually like the instant replay for itself. That it corrects bad calls is only an added bonus. That's what I call tech enhancing the sports experience.