league’s preseason games are played, into early September, concluding just as the regular season got underway.
“It was a very accelerated timeline, and so that was where the
most classic project-management aspects came into play,” says
Mr. King. “We had to schedule everything collaboratively with the
NFL and give them predicted dates. It was a classic ‘put the puzzle
together’ situation given all the venues, blackout dates and other
Beyond scheduling, installation challenges emerged. For
example, at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California, where the
Oakland Raiders play, there were power issues and IT infra-
structure issues. “Finding a permanent location for our system
meant ;nding a Harry Potter-esque room under the stairs,
then converting it into something where server-based com-
puters might reside for the next ;ve to seven years,” says
Ultimately, not only did Zebra complete the stadium-installation process on schedule, it also brought its control
center in San Jose, California, USA, online. Every tag
reading from each of the 92 uniformed players on game
day is sent there (in the NFL, each team sends 46 players
to the ;eld for potential play): ;at’s 2,208 readings per
second for just one game. During a Sunday afternoon
with nine games played simultaneously, Zebra would
record about 215 million readings.
Once the technology has been installed in every
venue, the league is considering giving access to coaches and o;cials as well, Ms.
Stelfox says. ;us far, the NFL has used Zebra’s data to enhance the fan experience
by providing additional statistics to viewers.
PLAYER VS. PLAYER
;e race to fuse sports and technology is nearly as competitive as the games themselves. In December, just months after GoalControl’s triumphant assignment at the
World Cup, Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd. announced it would provide a similar goal-line solution for Germany’s top football league, the Bundesliga, in 2015.
;e sports-tech industry “has exploded, and it’s changing very quickly,” says Jouni
Ronkainen, senior product manager, Hawk-Eye, Reading, England. “It’s a great time
to be a project manager in this space—there are ample opportunities,” he says. “But
there’s less room for error because these types of projects are highly visible. Given the
amount of competition, only the best products and services will thrive.”
Experts, including Mr. Ronkainen, expect consolidation in the sports-tech industry
in the next few years, both in terms of the number of companies involved and the
services they o;er. He expects new projects to integrate video- and sensor-based
solutions, and also add biomechanical and biometric tools to, for example, evaluate
how tired an athlete is.
As the project landscape evolves, the competition will be ;erce. Instead of inches and
centimeters, however, the leaderboard will be set by milliseconds and terabytes. PM
“It’s a great time
to be a project
manager in this
—Jouni Ronkainen, Hawk-Eye