National Football League (NFL) to use digital twins to protect players from injury. Source: Shutterstock

National Football League (NFL) to use digital twins to protect players from injury. Source: Shutterstock

Can digital twins help companies protect multi-billion dollar sports teams?

STAKEHOLDERS in the sports industry know two things — corporate investments drive a majority of the revenues and players are the most valuable asset.

Just last year, the National Football League (NFL) earned about US$16 billion and paid out about US$8.78 billion to its clubs.

Given that we now live in a digital-first world, companies are exploring how technology can help protect their investment in sports teams and players.

One project that the NFL has embarked on involves using digital twins — built using big data, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) — to gain a deeper and more profound understanding of the game than ever before, making transformational change possible in football, other sports, and potentially other industries.

With the help of a technology partner, the NFL will develop new tools and generate deeper and better-informed insights into player injuries, specifically the impact of a variety of factors such as game rules, equipment, and rehabilitation and recovery strategies.

Over time, the collaboration aims to also build the capability to predict the risk of player injuries before they happen.

“The NFL is committed to reimagining the future of football. When we apply next-generation technology to advance player health and safety, everyone wins – from players to clubs to fans,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

With help from its technology partner, the NFL expects to securely speed the gathering and application of data-based insights using scalable computer simulation and modeling.

Ideally, data scientists and developers will be able to leverage the partnership to quickly and easily build, train, and deploy ML models, to develop capabilities that may ultimately help predict and prevent injury to athletes.

NFL’s data sets from numerous sources – including historical and current video feeds, player position, play type, equipment choice, playing surface, environmental factors, and aggregated and anonymized player injury information – will all be used to support the project.

The work that the NFL does with technology will help companies better protect their investment in players and also help other sports leagues make playing the sport safer and more enjoyable.

Ultimately, sports teams thrive when they are well taken care of. Using digital twins and technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, it’s easy to take big strides in the right direction as far as safety and security for each individual player is concerned.