It’s no secret that technology is transforming our lives every day, from our homes to our commutes to our jobs. However, it’s not just businesses and individuals that are impacted by advancements in tech. Technology is also changing the world of sports.
Baseball is not immune to these changes in technology, which impacts both how the game is played and how fans interact with it. Below are several exciting ways in which technology is changing America’s favorite pastime.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality (VR) is already changing our personal and professional lives, and it’s having more implications than previously imagined. For example, baseball fans can now use VR headsets to play virtual baseball games, which is driving up interest in the sport and invigorating fans’ investment.
Professional baseball players also benefit from developments in VR for their training. Batters can use virtual and augmented reality to practice recognizing details of an opposing pitcher’s motion, release, and throw in a controlled environment. This can help batters become familiar with any pitcher’s style, even before facing them on the plate.
Advancements in technology mean that players no longer stand isolated, practicing batting or pitching while a coach watches. Now, players can be hooked up to dozens of wires, or closely observed by high-speed cameras, that turn movement into an endless stream of data. In real time, analysts can observe a pitcher’s velocity, vertical and horizontal break, spin rate, and more. All of these will lead to adjustments and refinements in technique that were previously impossible to call for with just the naked eye.
Technology doesn’t stop at just pitch tracking. In the foreseeable future, it’s possible to imagine catchers wearing sleeves that measure arm movements and impact, and VR that allows pitchers to watch batters’ stance and swing. In sum, technology is impacting and transforming every element of the game. There is equal opportunity for players, coaches, and managers to participate in these technological advancements, incorporating them into practice until they become a seamless part of any team’s routine.
The legal landscape for sports betting is changing by the day, and technology will transform the practice itself. In fact, tech companies are expected to emerge as giants in the bookmaking space, competing against already established players like sportsbook operators and fantasy sports sites. Robots and AI are also poised to transform baseball as they enter the betting world, using dynamic algorithms, real-time tracking of data, and motion-tracking cameras to predict outcomes and place bets.
As our lives digitize, the trend is that more and more betting will take place online. The internet has also greatly changed how fans can bet on MLB, with many sites offering far more options for wagers throughout the MLB season than land-based casinos for instance, where there are more limitations. Now, there are dozens of different wagers someone can make either before or during a game.
Major League Baseball has been paying attention to the rise of eSports (or online, competitive video games). In fact, MLB recently launched its first eSports league in China. As eSports continues to grow its presence and economic dominance, and as other major league sports jump in for a cut, the MLB has a major opportunity to transform its presence and fan engagement.
Fans are drawn to eSports for many of the same reasons they are drawn to baseball: the camaraderie, the joy of rooting for a certain team, and watching a team or an individual excel in their field. MLB can capitalize on this enthusiasm to keep drawing in fans. But as technology advances, the sport may see a shift away from traditional baseball and toward fans who follow its esports branches.
As technology grows, advances, and continues to transform our lives, its impact on baseball will get bigger. From the fans who watch and bet on teams, to coaches poring over analytics, to the players themselves, everyone will feel the impact of a changing digital world. These exciting new developments promise to transform baseball and help the MLB evolve for the modern world.