21st Century Sports:

How Technologies Will Change Sports in the Digital Age

  • Forecasts the effects of robotics, bioengineering, machine learning, and virtual reality on sports

  • Discusses a range of technological innovations in the sports industry

  • Examines the technological transformation of athletes’ performance, sports consumption, and business models

About the book

What the book is about

This book looks at the effects of technology-induced change in sport within the next five to ten years and provides food for thought for what lies further ahead. Presented as a collection of essays, the authors are leading academics from renowned institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, and University of Cambridge, and practitioners with deep technological expertise. In their essays, the authors examine the impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, internet of things, and robotics on sports and assess how they will change sport itself, consumer behavior, and existing business models. The book should enable athletes, entrepreneurs, and innovators working in the sports industry to spot trendsetting technologies, gain deeper insights into how they will affect their activities, and identify the most effective responses to stay ahead of the competition on and off the pitch.

Order the book here via Springer International or via Amazon. Also upon request a Mandarin edition has been published lately.
The 2nd edition with additional chapters will be published in autumn 2023.


Together with "Athletic Interest", we have translated the main take-aways of the book into an engaging video essay:

Man versus Machine:

Why Football will End in 2049.



Meet some of the authors

Book content

Chapter overview

Chapter 1
How technologies impact sports in the digital age 

Schmidt introduces the relationship between technology and sports in the digital age taking time to outline improvements to athletic performance, sport consumption, sports management, and governance. He also describes how technology drives the development of new sports and enhancement of traditional sport. Finally, he outlines the process by which technologies were selected for 21st Century sports: How technologies will change sports in the digital age as well as the structure and chapters of the book.

Chapter 2
Taxonomy of sportstech 

In this chapter, Frevel, Schmidt, Beiderbeck, Penkert, Subirana provide a snapshot of the opportunities, challenges, and development of the sportstech industry and propose a sportstech taxonomy comprised of the definition of sportstech and the SportsTech Matrix. Their goal is to provide a common understanding and a useful tool for researchers and practitioners alike. In so doing, they define sportstech based on established understanding of sports and technology, introduce the SportsTech Matrix, and exemplify how to apply it with use cases for a variety of stakeholders. The SportsTech Matrix provides an all-encompassing structure for the field of sportstech along two angles: the user and tech. Together, the two angles capture how different types of technologies provide solutions to different user groups.

Chapter 3
How thesis driven innovation radars could benefit the sports industry
In this chapter, Sarma, Subirana, and Frevel look at trend and innovation radars, in general, and discuss how sports organizations and their management can benefit from a systematic approach to handling emerging technologies and innovations. They explain their understanding of a “corporate thesis,” which is required to steer an organization to long-term success given seemingly unlimited opportunities offered by new technologies under the constraint of limited resources. To respond to overwhelming amounts of news, innovations, and disruptions, they make the case for Thesis Driven Innovation Radars and demonstrate their application in the sports industry.

Chapter 4
Robotics, automation, and the future of sports

This chapter explores the growing influence of robotics and automation on sports and potential resultant future states. Siegel and Morris describe advances leading to broader deployment of robotics and automation and envision how these technologies may lead to new models for spectator experience by increasing engagement and interactivity. Next, they consider how robotics and automation create opportunities for improved athlete training and detail how robotics and automation have augmented sports by allowing new athletes to compete, creating new sports, and providing a playing field for intellectual athletes. Finally, they envision possible future evolutions of sports leveraging robotic advances and present a case study on how robotics might impact motorsport, closing by considering potential non-technical challenges and risks in inviting robots into sport.

Chapter 5
Robotics and AI: How technology may change the way we shape our bodies and what this does to the mind

In this chapter, Kirchner explores some of the exciting recent developments in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and the barriers to control complex mechanisms. He also offers a solution that he terms “the hybrid AI approach.” Kirchner goes on to argue for using robots and learning as a way to achieve AI, an idea first touted by Alan Turing, and offers example cases of robots and AI in sports. Finally, he looks to the future and explores the possibilities and possible effects on the human body and mind of extensive physical interaction with intelligent machines.

Chapter 6
The reach of sports technologies

Schlegel and Hill outline the megatrends of sport in Australia and introduce an additional megatrend, the use of sports technologies, which they explore in more depth. They then argue that sports technologies—wearables, internet of things (IoT) applications, media, and communications—can provide the basis for validation, technology transfer, and diffusion of knowledge into fitness, wellness and health, as well as occupational health, safety, and defense. They explain how sports technologies impact multiple verticals including insurances, stadium set up and maintenance, and broadcasting. Finally, they explore the challenges presented by use of sports technologies including the barriers to open standards, security, and privacy.

Chapter 7
The future of additive manufacturing in sports

This chapter highlights the present and projected impact of additive manufacturing technologies on the sports ecosystem. Beiderbeck, Krüger, and Minshall first describe the process- and product-related advantages that derive from additive manufacturing in general. Then, they introduce an Additive Manufacturing Sports Application Matrix, which serves as a grid to structure current use cases along their benefits for the sports industry. Next, they illustrate how the interplay between additive manufacturing and technological advancement in other fields like artificial intelligence, sensor technology, and robotics can create new products and business models. The chapter concludes with a discussion about future opportunities and challenges around additive manufacturing and innovation in sports.

Chapter 8
The current state and future of regenerative sports medicine

Regular engagement in sports produces many health benefits, but also exposes participants to increased injury risk. Hutmacher offers an overview of the progression of currently available regenerative treatment concepts and a summary of the different modalities of platelet rich plasma treatments, bone marrow aspirate concentrate and precursor/stem cells, adipose-derived stem cells, and amniotic membrane products. General principles in the application of these treatment concepts are discussed. Finally, Hutmacher offers a critical, though visionary, view on how regenerative sports medicine technologies may lead to new treatment concepts and increasing engagement of both sports’ injury patients and physicians.

Chapter 9
Big data, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing in sports

This chapter examines the exciting possibilities promised for the sports environment by new technologies such as big data, AI, and quantum computing, discussed in turn. Together and separately, the technologies’ capacity for more precise data collection and analysis can enhance sports-related decision making and increase organization performance in many areas. Torgler also emphasizes technologies’ limitations—and considerations like privacy and inefficiencies—by reflecting on the nature of sport. Finally, it explores the factors beyond technology that influence individual’s deep involvement in and emotional attachment to sports and sports-related events.

Chapter 10
The data revolution: Cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning in the future of sports

Chase argues that data is the currency by which competitive advantage is won and lost. Those who find creative ways to unlock and harness it—largely through employment of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing, which she discusses in turn—will be the champions of tomorrow. Use of these technologies will enable a waterfall of new abilities: Teams will better identify talent and optimize training protocols.  Game strategy, team lineups, and player archetypes will be created and simulated in virtual “what if” environments. Fans’ experiences will be increasingly immersive. If these advanced insights could be properly unlocked, understanding that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are tools with defined limits and biases, data will transform sport and push the limits of human performance.

Chapter 11
Blockchain: From fintech to the future of sport

In this chapter, Khaund gives an explanation of the oft spoken about but little understood blockchain. He walks the reader through likely applications of the blockchain technology on and off the sporting field taking time to outline the revolutionary power of smart contracts for athlete compensation, gambling, and even broadcasting contracts. He argues that anywhere transactions between multiple parties occur or privileged management of data exists, blockchain will become the de facto solution and even lead to new business models. In his view, the short-term benefits will be limited by the willingness of the incumbents to accept drastic change, but the long-term future of sports will be assuredly and profoundly impacted by blockchain.

Chapter 12
Blockchain, sport, and navigating the sportstech dilemma

In their chapter, Carlsson-Wall and Newland introduce the sportstech dilemma. They describe how sport is an industry driven by emotion and the importance of maintaining competitive balance, which distinguishes it from other industries. Then, they survey the blockchain tech landscape in sport and differentiate seven market segments depending on customer type and the type of impact sought. They propose three strategic questions—concerning the level of integration into the sports ecosystem, potential for a hybrid business model, and geographic footprint—to guide companies navigating the Sportstech dilemma. Finally, they look further into the future and see unexpected possibilities for blockchain in sport.

Chapter 13
The rise of emotion AI: Decoding flow experiences in sports 

In this chapter, Bartl and Füller explore Emotion artificial intelligence (AI), which has the potential not only to radically change the way sports are trained, but also how they are experienced and consumed. Their chapter illustrates how affective states can be measured with the help of AI and how the provided analytics may impact the sports experience. Besides giving insights in the role emotions play in sports, the empirical case study shows how to measure the state of flow of biathlon athletes with AI. Their findings show that the analysis of psycho-physiological patterns allow classification of athletes’ flow states and prediction of performance. And finally, they outline how Emotion AI may add value to the sports activity of athletes, coaches, spectators, and researchers.

Chapter 14
Strategies to reimagine the stadium experience

Despite the challenges presented by seemingly limitless sports and entertainment options, increasing ticket cost, and transportation issues, Shields and Rein argue that the in-stadium sports experience is important and worth fighting for. To persuade fans to spend their time and money attending sporting events, they contend that sports organizations will need to rethink their core proposition. They offer four strategies to solve the problem of fan attendance in the future: First, introducing scarcity. Second, eventizing the sports calendar. The third and fourth strategies, making the stadium experience frictionless and utilizing satellite stadiums, respectively, will require leveraging new technology including augmented reality and virtual reality. Embracing these strategies may not be easy, but they will be essential to preserving and reinvigorating stadium attendance going forward. 

Chapter 15
Virtual reality & sports: The rise of mixed, augmented, immersive, and esports experiences

In this chapter, Miah, Fenton, and Chadwick tell the story of how sports have become increasingly intertwined with the trajectory of the media innovation industries and how this extends particularly into the realm of computer-generated imagery and game playing. They consider how virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and extended reality are being integrated into the sports industries and discuss the innovation culture that operates around these experiences. They focus on how new, digitally immersive sports experiences transform the athletic experience for participants and audiences and create new kinds of experience that, in turn, transform the sporting world. Further, they explore what this means for the long-term future of sports.

Chapter 16
Video games, technology, and sport: the future is interactive, immersive, and adaptive

While traditional sport spectator numbers decline, the number of viewers in interactive media such as streaming platforms, video games, and esports continue to increase. In response, Pirker offers a characterization of the new generation of consumers and the technologies opening up new avenues for engaging and immersive experiences. She demonstrates that with the help of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI), among other technologies, traditional sports can follow successful strategies from interactive media. But the influence is not one-sided. Pirker also offers a picture of the two-way relationship between sports and videogames and how both industries might develop as technologies improve.   

Chapter 17
Impossible sports 

To illustrate how future technologies will shape future sports, Subriana and Laguarta explore an imaginary future—following a fictional character and her family through a day in their lives. They highlight potential applications of technologies in the fields of the Internet of things, robotics and automation, information processing, communications, and legal programming in new sports. The chapter also explores potential sports that, beyond entertainment, could solve real-life problems or otherwise improve society with examples like improved human relationships with animals, increased safety from environmental dangers, and more efficient smart cities. 

Chapter 18
Beyond 2030: What sports will look like for the athletes, consumers and managers 

In this chapter, Schmidt and Stoneham look beyond the short- and mid-term impact of technology on sport through the eyes of the athlete, consumer, and manager. Combining the predictions offered by the authors of 21st Century Sports: How Technologies Will Change Sports in the Digital Age and their own findings, they present what sports will look like in the next thirty years. In the end, they dare to peek beyond the thirty-year mark, offering hope and a bit of guidance for the beyond.

These subject matter experts have each
contributed a chapter on their area of expertise

  • Alex Fenton, PhD
    Doctor of Digital Business at The University of Salford Business School
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Nicolas Frevel
    Research Assistant at Center for Sports and Management – Otto Beisheim School of Management
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Dr. Johann Füller
    Professor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism at Innsbruck University and CEO of HYVE
    LinkedIn profile
  • Craig Hill
    Strategy & Partnerships Manager at Vald Performance and Special Projects at Australian Sports Technologies Network
    LinkedIn profile
  • Dietmar W. Hutmacher
    Professor and Chair of Regenerative Medicine at the Institute of Biomedical Innovation at QUT and Director of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Additive Biomanufacturing; TUM Hans Fischer Senior Fellow Alumni, and Adjunct Professor at University of Queensland
    LinkedIn profile
  • Sandy Khaund
    Vice President Product, Ticketmaster
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Frank Kirchner, PhD
    Director of the Robotics Innovation Center and Executive Manager of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) Bremen and Chair of Robotics at the University of Bremen
  • Harry Krüger
    Research Assistant at the Center for Sports and Management at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf
    LinkedIn profile
  • Jordi Laguarta Soler
    Researcher at the Auto-ID lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    LinkedIn profile
  • Andy Miah
    Professor and Chair of Science Communication & Future Media in the School of Science, Engineering and Environment at the University of Salford, Manchester
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Tim Minshall, PhD
    Inaugural Dr. John C. Taylor Professor of Innovation at the University of Cambridge, Head of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), and Head of the IfM's Centre for Technology Management
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Daniel Morris, PhD
    Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University
    LinkedIn profile
  • Dr. Brianna Newland
    Academic Director of undergraduate programs and an Associate Professor of Sport Management in the Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport at New York University (NYU)
    LinkedIn profile
  • Benjamin Penkert
    Founder of Berlin-based SportsTechX
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Dr. Johanna Pirker
    Assistant Professor of Games Engineering at Graz University of Technology and Director of Game Lab Graz
    LinkedIn profile
  • Irving Rein, PhD
    Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at Northwestern University
  • Sanjay Sarma
    Vice President for Open Learning and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT
  • Martin Schlegel
    Director of the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN)
    LinkedIn profile
  • Sascha L. Schmidt
    Director of the Center for Sports and Management and Professor for Sports and Management at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf and Academic Director of SPOAC - Sports Business Academy by WHU
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Ben Shields, PhD
    Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management
    LinkedIn profile
    Twitter account
  • Josh Siegel, PhD
    Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University and the Lead Instructor for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's "Internet of Things" and "DeepTech" Bootcamps
    LinkedIn profile
  • Katsume Stoneham
    Freelance editor and writer
    LinkedIn profile
  • Brian Subirana
    Professor and Director of the MIT Auto-ID lab and currently lecturer at Harvard University and at the MIT Bootcamps
    LinkedIn profile
  • Benno Torgler, PhD
    Professor of Economics at the Queensland University of Technology and the Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology
    LinkedIn profile
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