Sport – Technology in sport

Access to goods, services, entertainment and information through laptops, phones and tablets is having an increasing impact on sport.

Recent data highlights that individual sports, such as running and cycling, are showing growth, while a number of team sports are declining. Furthermore, membership of sports clubs is also declining, particularly amongst adults.

Personalised technology such as tracking devices, health monitors and fitness trackers, which monitor activity and food intake, mean that an individual can now obtain detailed information about their fitness levels, performance and health status without recourse to sports or health professionals.

This presents a number of implications for the sports sector.

If individuals can gain detailed information about their fitness level and how to improve, they can also obtain a fitness or exercise programme designed specifically for them. Such programmes may be just as attractive as attending a standard training session aimed at a number of regular participants in a club.

Secondly, and more crucially, individuals are no longer so dependent on traditional structures for activities.

Increasingly, non-sports organisations and/or private providers are enabling or facilitating individuals to take part in sporting activities without commitment to an organisation or a regular schedule (such as through fun-runs or charity events). Pay and Play models enable one-off or unscheduled games for small, informal teams – moving away from the traditional membership model or the weekly Saturday morning commitment normally required for team games.This type of flexibility is increasingly attractive in a world where most of us struggle to maintain a balance between work, social and family commitments.

The challenge for the sports sector, and in particular those organisations in the traditional model of delivery (such as clubs) is how to respond to these changes. This is more of an issue for team sports, or for those dependent on membership subscriptions for revenue.

Offering varying opportunities to participate will be critical for the sports organisations of the future. How can your club or sport offer more flexibility, such as Pay for Play or one off opportunities? Even more important is how you communicate these programmes to the public. These are issues that sports organisations must face up to as society adapts and changes along with new technology.

Sport development manager, Harbour Sport