Football is fast becoming a game of stats. It started with Fantasy Football counting every player’s goals, assists and clean sheets. Then companies like Opta came along to track the minutia of every player on the pitch’s game; distance run, passes completed, times blinked etc.
Then companies like Opta came along to track the minutia of every player on the pitch’s game; distance run, passes completed, times blinked etc.
This explosion of information has, for the most part, been largely unnoticed – with broadcasters, magazines and even brands like Nike seamlessly integrating into their projects, be it an information bar when a player is substituted, an in-depth look at what the man-of-the-match did to earn his plaudits, or making shining examples of their key athletes when advertising a new pair of football boots.
Under Armour, however, have some even bigger plans for when they take the reigns as technical supplier to Tottenham Hotspur in 2012.
Speaking in the wake of the unveiling of the American Baselayer giant’s reportedly £10m a year deal with the North London club, Under Armour˘ executive vice-president Mark Dowley revealed that he wants to take stats and information to a previously unimagined level:
”We can metrically tell you what is happening to the body of somebody kicking a penalty in front of 60,000 people,” said Dowley,' ”You can watch his heart rate as he waits to take the kick. For the first time you can see inside an athlete as they perform. It adds to the drama.”
Using a refined version of the ‘E39’ technology the Baltimore brand developed for the 2011 NFL Combine, Under Armour think that by 2012, they will be in a position to stream live data, not only to coaches, medical staff and internal club personell, but to the broadcaster, right from their football shirts; so they could give the audience at home a look into the inner workings of a Premiership footballer.
Using graphics similar to Sky Sports Playercam or ‘Red Button’ interactive coverage, we at home would be able to see Van der Vaart’s heart rate sky-rocket when he bags a winner, how long it takes Luka Moric to really break a sweat using moisture sensors and just how lung-busting Aaron Lennon’s run was with respiratory monitors and speedometers.
Dowley also sees the benefits that it brings to a football club as a whole, especially on the training ground saying, ”You could also tell who the best conditioned athlete is on the pitch and over the season, and when to pull a player out because he˘ worn out.”
On one hand, there’s something inherently cool about this sort of thing, it is genuinely sci-fi levels of technology and the very thought that all this could be fitted into something as humble as a football shirt is incredibly interesting.
The benefits for the training staff is also something that could prolong players seasons, if not their careers! The thought of Harry Redknapp hunched over his iPad with his fitness coach monitoring his players vitals before deciding which player is coming off in a vital 67th minute substitution is nothing short of compelling.
On the other hand – is this level of data collection bad for the players mentality? At best it’s unnecessary – football has gone decades without this degree of monitoring – and at worst it’s invasive and unethical – such information could be exploited by the media, revealing issues with the players health, fitness and even things like hereditary defects and underlying genetic conditions.
We here at Footy-Boots towers can’t make our minds up – so we’re putting it to a poll!
Let us know where you stand by voting in the box below, or posting a comment if you feel really strongly on the subject! [poll id=”49″]