ESA Call for Proposals: Space4Sport Kick-Start

Over recent years, sport as an industry has been particularly receptive to new developments in technology and analytics. Wearable technologies have diversified, both at a professional sports science level and in the consumer fitness market. Teams and sporting bodies have worked to make their stadiums more connected, with all major new stadiums now being built with this in mind.
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Whether for active participation as a leisure sportsperson, or passively following as a spectator of sporting events, for many people sport is their favourite leisure activity. At the same time, the public’s interest in sport and their consumer behaviour receives massive stimulation from professional top-level sport. The latter in turn can only develop from the provision of a diverse and high-quality range of services and infrastructures for sport at the mass participation level. Accordingly, sport has become a growing factor in Europe’s economy and society.

Over recent years, sport as an industry has been particularly receptive to new developments in technology and analytics. Wearable technologies have diversified, both at a professional sports science level and in the consumer fitness market. Teams and sporting bodies have worked to make their stadiums more connected, with all major new stadiums now being built with this in mind. Virtual Reality has come a long way in terms of real world applications, with a number of training programs that utilise the technology to put athletes in situations that are otherwise unachievable in an ordinary session. Major broadcasters have continued their battle against illegal streaming services; and analytics teams have continued to embed what they do into every area of their organisations.

Space assets and satellite technologies can offer added value to the sports business and can increase its capabilities in a number of ways.

TOPICS OF RELEVANCE

Sports Tourism and Fan Engagement 

In the ‘participant sports’ segment, services related to information on local effects for specific sports might be of interest for planning, preparation and execution of sports activities. In the ‘spectator sports’ segment, travelling to sports events represents the largest sub-segment. This includes transportation, accommodation, meal provisioning and attendance at sports colleges. In addition, sports organizations often struggle to collect valuable data on fan behaviour, which may lead to a less personalised fan experience and loss of fans.

Sports Facilities

Sports facilities are needed or desired for producing sport. Building such facilities such as a new sports stadium, a golf course, a lake resort for water sport, a ski area, or hiking paths, requires input in the form of information and services for the planning, design and construction of the facilities. Once built, such facilities need to be maintained, modernised and renovated.

Sports Equipment and Vehicles

In many sports, equipment and vehicles are needed to carry out the sport, such as shoes, rackets, skis, surfboards, bicycles, motor bikes, cars, canoes, boats and airplanes. Producing better equipment to achieve better results is an endless competition between equipment manufacturers, requiring successful integration of technological innovations and input data for analysis, improvement and maintenance of equipment.

Athlete Endorsement

In the professional sports segment, one continuing challenge for sports agencies is the increased role that data analysis plays in evaluating athlete performance. Non-traditional statistics are being developed in an attempt to draw a correlation between specific aspects of athlete performance and winning. Ownership of and access to the underlying information and the ability to analyse it properly is vital when athlete transfers take place and will likely be the subject of future collective bargaining agreements.

Sports Coaching

While the essence of sports lies in the talent of the athletes, their performance can be greatly improved by making use of modern technologies, ensuring a superior game and positive results. Everyone from amateurs to Olympians are beginning to understand the enormous potential of improving performance with the help of tech-driven feedback tools.

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. The assistance of sports medicine is also recommended either when starting completely new with a sport, or  following rehabilitation after sustained injuries, in order not to overload the body. Data collection, transmission and analysis will allow the medical personnel to provide tailored advice regarding the sport program to be followed.

Animals and their Upkeep

Similar to human athletes, in a number of sports animals such as dogs (e.g. dog sleighing, dog races, dog competitions), horses (e.g. cross country, dressage, jumping, western horse riding), or pigeons (e.g. pigeon breeding, carrier pigeon races) are involved; and they deserve as much care as their human partners. Many of the topics of relevance addressed above can also be applied to animals involved in sport.

Dateline for submission: 1 July 2019

Source: European Space Agency

Illustration Photo: Sport Tourism (credits: Jordan Curet/Fortune Brainstorm TECH / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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