The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed how groups, leagues and other sports organizations operate.
Why it matters: Some of those changes are short-lived, but others will likely be long-term– and in many cases, COVID-19 merely accelerated a technological advancement that was currently well underway.
Two prime examples:
1. Robot refs: In an effort to decrease the number of people on website, the U.S. Open (Aug. 31– Sept. 13) will change line judges with an automated system called Hawk-Eye Live, NYT reports
- Hawk-Eye has been used in the past to challenge calls, and now it will go from acting as quality control and aiding the broadcast to being the first and final word.
- The system utilizes taped voices to yell things like “out” and “fault,” and when a line call is particularly close, the voice tasks more seriousness. Like GPS systems, different voices– and languages– can be used.
2. Facial acknowledgment: Numerous teams and leagues are evaluating facial-recognition technology and biometric screening to make admitting fans into stadiums as safe and touchless as possible.
- Beginning next year, LAFC fans will be able to use an app called Clear, which some airline company guests currently use to speed through security. The Mets are checking the exact same system this season for players and coaches, and the NHL is using Clear to screen players and personnel inside its bubbles.
- How it works, per WSJ ( membership): One video camera determines the fan’s temperature, while a second identifies if they’re using a mask. The fan then takes down their mask to enable the electronic camera see their face, which is linked to their TicketMaster account. If they have a ticket, they’re allowed entry.
The big photo: The transition from physical to digital tickets has been underway for a years This is the next phase because advancement, and the pandemic sped up the process. Someday quickly, you’ll probably be purchasing hotdogs with your face.