Can technology increase a sports team’s chances of winning? There is no definitive proof either way, as most sports teams in North America are already equipped with the latest technology and there are still teams such as the NFL’s Detroit Lions who go an entire season without winning a game.
About a decade ago, while he was an assistant coach for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Eric Musselman told CDN that by utilizing the latest technology a team could increase its point total between three to six in the standings. At the time, Musselman, who was speaking at an IBM Canada press event, said technology gives a team an edge.
Musselman went on to become the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and was runner-up for coach of the year in 2002. Today, Musselman writes a popular blog about basketball.
Brian Colangelo, president and GM of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, agreed that the latest technology does give teams an edge, but stopped short of pinpointing how many points a team could move up the standings.
“I wouldn’t say how many points a team can increase during the season because of the technology they use, but it is clear to me that it does help the coaches for game preparation, the scouting staff in terms of evaluating players and the players themselves,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo took part in a press conference announcing LG Canada‘s platinum-level partnership with Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). The partnership officially makes LG Canada the exclusive provider of HD LCD screens, mobile phones and notebooks to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Eric Agius, COO of LG Canada, said that in today’s competitive world innovation and sports have become inseparable. “LG technology will give these teams an advantage and this partnership means a lot to us,” Agius said. LG Canada will provide the Leafs, Raptors and Marlies more than 700 HD screens some of which will be installed around the Air Canada Centre, where the Leafs and Raptors play their games. As part of the sponsorship arrangement, LG Canada will also have an LG Experience Zone kiosk permanently located on the 100 and 300 arena levels.
The remaining screens, mobile phones and notebooks will be used by the coaching and training staff, Agius said.
“The more realistic the picture the better it will be for the training and coaching staff to aid the current talent and that would benefit the fans,” he added.
Colangelo said that the Raptors have invested so much time and money already in new software to evaluate games that the LG notebooks will give coaches better viewing capabilities. “We get captured footage from various feeds and there is so much inconsistency there and with the high def feeds we get today it will make it that much better for the coaches,” Colangelo said.
After the new software, Colangelo determined that there was no point in viewing captured footage on old technology. Also, the Raptors are scouting more international players and the footage they receive from Europe is not of higher grade and the HD monitors improve the appearance of those videos for the coaches and scouts.
New Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke has already replaced his laptop with the new LG model. He remembered back to 1989 when he was the assistant GM of the Vancouver Canucks when they became the first NHL team to equip its professional scouts in the field with laptops.
“This sounds comical now, but back then the field reports were done on paper and there was a lot of data entry. The modems were so slow that our phone rates were high. My cell phone was like Maxwell Smart’s phone shoe. Things are much more miniaturize these days and it does give us a competitive advantage. Technology gives us a better handle on data and clearly it gives us a leg up on the competition,” Burke said.
Burke added that HD screens helps coaches get buy-in from the players. “Every component in the loop is in HD for sending and communicating clips. A coach can tell a player something and he will believe it 50 per cent of the time. This shows him that it is inches rather than feet away, especially on the penalty kill situations and with that we get complete buy-in from the athletes and we can teach better,” Burke said.