DEBATE: IS UNDER ARMOUR’S NEW TECH A STEP TOO FAR?

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.

Under Armour E39

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.”

Is Under Armour's proposed Technology for the new Tottenham Hotspurs kit taking statistics too far?

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.

Is Under Armour's proposed Technology for the new Tottenham Hotspurs kit taking statistics too far?

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″]


18 Comments

  • Wow – I had no idea anything like this was in the works, crazy stuff! I can’t wait to see how it pans out, so I want to see it introduced!

  • Call me a cynic, but can you imagine sat in the pub, with your 3D glasses on, while info on a players heart rate, speed, etc. pops up?

    That’s not what football’s about!

  • the harry redknapp thought is cool 😀

    if i’m in harry’s position, i’m definitely checking those stats before deciding who’s gonna take a penalty kick -which is still cool to that extent.

    but we don’t wanna see bunch of robots and technical data playing on the pitch, football is about heart, and guts!
    remember when rocky balboa beats that draco guy from soviet? that’s when guts triumph over technology 😀

  • I think it would be really interesting to analyse players in this fashion. The thought of learning the fittest, the coolest and the most nervous would be incredible.

  • I’m conflicted on this one. On one hand, the fact that this technology exists at all is really cool, and could have really beneficial effects for players, coaches, and managers. On the other, however, incorporating it into broadcasts seems like a step in the wrong direction. My biggest problem is due to the fact that most of the viewers wouldn’t interpret the information properly, or might miss the non-physical aspects of management. That is, for me, the potential for fans to crucify a manager after a loss for not taking off a knackered-but-clearly-inspired player, or some other situation in which the fans have reached a consensus. There’s a reason Football Manager players haven’t replaced actual managers. Data is only part of the picture, and when used alone leads to problematic conclusions. Also, in other sports where such data is available to viewers, cycling, for instance, the commentators always have to explain it anyway, making the effectiveness marginal anyway.

  • amazing piece of tech. but it will take away the human aspect in games. it will eliminate the difference between the alex fergussons and the david moyes. and that is what makes football so exciting.. the unpredictability

  • Avatar for Kyle Elliot [email protected] says:

    Xavier, lets for one second put the absurdity of that comment aside, imagine if a coach had enough balls, excuse the pun, to keep a very tired player on and them going on a getting the winning goal?

    It even happens today. You see RVP and Fabregas not being at their best, you see players not at their best and yet they give something much more to a team and any decent manager can realise that.

  • as an athlete i would like to know the metrics of lennon and bale and modric at full tilt.

    wonder what their heart rate is at – does it even increase at all?? a workaholic like modric – is his overall heart rate during the match the lowest in the team?

    i think this data is brilliant. pre-match can display the line up’s body-fat percentages. so no guessing who’s been putting on the wrong weight ala ronaldinho.

  • If they want to use that thing, they can make their own league.

    Football is about the human factor, the passion, the skills, the unpredictability. Sometimes a players seem to be out of it, but out of nowhere, boom! He can score the winning goal. That’s football.

    These are not something a little device can predict.

  • hard to see where the benefit is. you know how sometimes, you’re playing/running and you think you’re out of gas and then you get your second wind, and everything just starts to hum and click like a perfectly tuned race car? does the machine tell you when that’s about to happen?

    so it seems unnecessary, but… it would be interesting to see if you could biometrically tell when a player dives.

  • Can you please get rid of the bottom picture of gareth bale? I know someone who collapsed and died whilst playing football last weekend, due to heart failure, and though the picture may be amusing to some people (and probably me normally) I find it very offensive.

    Thanks.

  • Uhh… mayybe you should not look at it? Its even remotely offensive. When I see a picture of someone in a pool or drinking some water, should I feel offended just because my brother drowned to death? No.

  • Shit analogy mate, is drinking water the same as drowning? No. Is a picture of a person lying dead on the floor the same as what happened to my mate? Oh, yes, yes it is. Now fuck off.

  • from a spectator’s point of view, this is pointless and I don’t want to hear about the info they gather. On the other hand, this sort of stuff could be really useful to training and medical staff to keep players safe and also perhaps find ways of improving performance.

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