Category Archives: Analytics

  • 0

MGM GVC Interactive Partners With Sportradar on Sports Betting Data

Sportradar will be the exclusive provider of sports betting data to MGM GVC Interactive for the half-dozen leagues and federations for which it is the official provider: the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, NASCAR, FIFA, and UEFA. MGM Resorts partnered with U.K.-based betting platform GVC Holdings this summer on a joint venture in the U.S. Sportradar will provide pre-match and live betting services as well as bet stimulation content such as live match trackers.
MGM Resorts has been an active player in the U.S. market in preparation for further state-by-state legalization of sports betting. The global entertainment and gaming company was the first to partner with a major sports league on data rights when MGM became the official gaming partner of the NBA this summer. Since then, MGM has announced a similar deal with the NHL. MGM GVC Interactive was launched in July with $100 million of seed money from both companies.
“MGM and GVC are leaders in the sports betting landscape, and we are proud to be their provider for U.S. sports data,” Neale Deeley, Sportradar’s VP of gaming sales, said in a statement. “We have been preparing for the opening of the U.S. market for some time now with an across the board ramp up of our U.S. sports betting offering and we are delighted with this endorsement from MGM and GVC that all the hard work is delivering what world class betting operators are looking for.”
SportTechie Takeaway
When MGM and the NBA announced their partnership at the end of July, basketball commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the data feed to MGM might come via a third party. That Sportradar would be that supplier is little surprise, given the company’s existing work with the NBA, but this deal will enable MGM GVC Interactive to have access to fast, reliable data feeds in several other sports, too. The NBA and NHL deals include some of each respective league’s proprietary advanced tracking data, but Sportradar’s analysis and engagement tools will now be added to those the data feeds.


  • 0

PlaySight Enters Into Official Partnership With Belgian Pro Basketball League

PlaySight Interactive, a cloud-based video and analytics platform used by professional teams for training, will bring video assistant referees and broadcast services to Europe in a new multi-year deal with the Belgian Pro Basketball League. 
The deal will make PlaySight the official broadcast, live streaming, and performance technology partner of Brussels-based EuroMillions Basketball League, operated by the BPL.
PlaySight will install its SmartCourt technology in each team’s arena to bring HD live streaming and automated video highlights to fans, something that PBL General Manager Wim Van de Keere said he hopes will increase visibility and elevate interest in the league.

#mc_embed_signupbackground:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.

“There is an insatiable hunger for sports content right now, and that is no different in Belgium where basketball is one of the most popular sports,” said PlaySight CEO Chen Shachar.
Interestingly, the PBL deal will include VAR replays, using a similar technology to the one that debuted at the FIFA World Cup this year.
The same tech will also be used to power athletic performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes via PlaySight SmartCourt, which leverages multi-angle video and proprietary analytics to help athletes improve their on-court performance.
PlaySight’s SmartCourt technology is currently used by a number of professional sports teams, including NBA teams such as the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. The company’s video technology is utilized in more than 25 sports across 20 countries, including tennis, golf, soccer, and football.
SportTechie Takeaway
PlaySight earlier this year raised $21 million in a Series C funding round that included investment from SoftBank, the Japanese tech conglomerate. At the time, Jay Choi, a senior associate of SoftBank Ventures Korea, predicted that PlaySight would become “the technology platform of choice” across youth, amateur and professional sports. The company had said it planned to use the late-stage funding round to expand into new verticals, such as using its data-infused video streams to enhance fan engagement and broadcast. Its deal with the PBL shows an effort to provide an all-in-one package for leagues, from analytics to broadcast and even replay technology to assist referees.


  • 0

Sports Analytics in the Classroom: How One Computer Science Professor is Changing the Game

Check out the Stats & Analytics Hub for the latest insights and resources on basketball data technology.
By 2022, the sports analytics market is expected to skyrocket to $4 billion. While top international companies are fighting for industry supremacy, an assistant professor of computer science at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. is poised to make her own big impact on the data-charged future of sports.
Dr. Felesia Stukes differentiates herself from traditional computer scientists by putting storytelling at the center of her work. “That’s what makes data science so unique,” she says. “You can’t just throw numbers at your target audience. That’s statistics. You have to be able to tell a story with the data.” And she believes—correctly—that students across different majors at JCSU stand to benefit from having a data science skill set.
When Dr. Stukes attended the National Society of Blacks in Computing Conference in the summer of 2017, she discovered the perfect tech tool for making data science accessible to one and all: ShotTracker, a sensor-based system beloved by D1 college basketball programs that instantly delivers 70+ real-time stats and analytics to an easy-to-use-app. Featuring shot charts and zone maps, ShotTracker makes telling stories about data that enhance team performance and drive competition easy.
Dr. Stukes immediately recognized ShotTracker’s educational potential, envisioning the system as the cornerstone of a new data science minor at JCSU. Now, supported by a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Stukes, along with seven hand-picked JCSU students, aka “The DATA Bulls,” are turning her pioneering vision into reality with a ShotTracker-powered pilot program designed to take computer science out of the classroom and into the real world.
“Math and science can cause anxiety and lead to avoidance for some students,” Dr. Stukes says. “A lot of the time, you’re in a computer lab environment in front of PCs, which makes things more intense.” ShotTracker’s on-the-go app changes that. The DATA Bulls started charging ahead the moment the sensors got installed in the rafters of JCSU’s basketball gym in September. “We consider it a partnership, because the teams will use ShotTracker during practice and we use the data to analyze their performance. The idea is to engage students traditionally not interested in data science or, on the flip side, athletics,” she said.
To re-enforce her program’s real-world aspirations, Dr. Stukes encourages the students to think of JCSU’s athletic department as the “client.” Beyond being responsible for ensuring that the system is working properly and that all the sensor-enabled balls are fully charged, the DATA Bulls will interact directly with players and coaches on JCSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, using ShotTracker-powered stats and analytics to improve their on-court performance.
(Image courtesy of Johnson C. Smith University)
“The hands-on, real-world applications make a huge difference in our students’ understanding,” Dr. Stukes says. “Using visuals on the iPad, we can talk to the coaches and players, increasing interactions outside the classroom. They’re learning at a faster speed than if they were looking at a PC screen and attempting to understand the impact.”
One DATA Bull in particular is a senior computer science and information systems major named Amyr. He’s determined to make his mark on the sports analytics field, and this program is a “dream come true,” Dr. Stukes says. “He plays basketball in his spare time. He’s well-versed in fantasy leagues. And he’s doing a senior project based on NBA stats. This experience is going to make him an excellent job candidate when he graduates.”
The benefits of being a DATA Bull certainly aren’t lost on Amyr. “For a while, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation,” he says. “When Dr. Stukes presented this program, it pointed me in the right direction. I’m super-excited about it. Learning about a new system like ShotTracker while collaborating with others should be a very fun experience and lead me to new opportunities in the future.”
As just one of more than a hundred recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), JCSU represents a particularly important staging ground for Dr. Stukes’ innovative use of ShotTracker. The program is unique among HBCUs, and Stukes sees it eventually broadening to track information such as sleep data, exercise science, and health and human performance. Minorities are underrepresented in the computer science field, yet as Dr. Stukes points out, those with computing skills are among the highest paid. Her passion as an educator is helping close that gap. “There’s a lot of motivation behind this program,” she says, “especially with a diverse student population.”
Though she does not consider herself an athlete, Dr. Stukes is both the wife and the daughter of former college basketball players. Her now deceased father, she says, “would’ve been blown away by ShotTracker. He never would’ve left the gym.” Of the few remaining old-schoolers who dismiss analytics as a passing fad, Dr. Stukes says, “Those people sound like they’re coaching from their couch. For coaches who are actually interested in winning, ShotTracker is empowering. You’re still using your eye, still using your mind. But you can use this tool to add to your expertise.” Like father, like daughter.


  • 0

David Stern Talks Sports Betting, NBA Tech and His ShotTracker Investment

Subscribe to the SportTechie Podcast
TuneIn | iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher
Former NBA commissioner David Stern and ShotTracker co-founder Davyeon Ross joined Bram Weinstein on the SportTechie podcast to chat about ShotTracker’s growing integration into basketball, and how sports betting will impact the viewing experience for NBA fans. Stern is an investor in ShotTracker, whose sensor-based technology and data analytics will be available to team personnel on the bench at the NCAA’s Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 19 and 20.
“Coaches are gonna get shot charts for both teams in real-time,” Ross said. “They’ll get optimal lineups and advanced analytics that give them information about how they’re performing in transition versus half-court, whether its [comparing] ball reverses versus paint touches, or ‘What’s my points-per-possession and field goal percentage if I have less than three passes?’”
David Stern: Why sports betting providers are interested in real-time data analytics companies
“With respect to the advent of sports betting, if the potential bettor has faster information than the enterprise that’s taking the bet, that really tilts the odds dramatically to the bettor. So this is an important reason why many of the companies that are engaged in transmitting gambling information are interested in what ShotTracker can do.”
Davyeon Ross: How ShotTracker selects which data metrics to provide
“We’ve worked with a lot of exceptional coaches from numerous coaches from some of the top-25 universities at the Division-I level. We asked them ‘What are the five things that are important to you?’ These coaches know what they want so we started constructing our algorithms to be able to provide the information to them.”
David Stern: Why his opinion on sports betting has since changed since leaving the role of NBA commissioner
“I testified in favor of PASPA [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] in 1991 as commissioner. It was a serious item of faith that sports leagues should not support betting on their games. I was consistent on that for a lot of different reasons but daily fantasy turned me around on that. I thought we had to keep sports fans—our home team fans—happy if the home team won and the last thing we wanted was have [anyone] upset if the home team won but didn’t cover [the spread]. That’s a quaint, old perception of mine that had to undergo some changes because of daily fantasy.”
David Stern: How technology will evolve the sports broadcast viewing experience for fans
“We are on the cusp—it may take three or four years—of a next generation of information that is going to go with the broadcast of the game. There’s going to be social media involved while watching the game. The ability to bring up statistics at any time you might request. The ability to watch the game with avatars who are representing friends of yours by WiFi. There’s going to be the ability to have somebody else broadcast the game if you’re not favoring the play-by-play announcers. If you keep going, you’re going to come to the conclusion ‘Why not odds and the ability to make a bet?’”
Hear the full interview with Stern and Ross, including their thoughts on how ShotTracker and the Golden State Warriors’ style of play is changing the way youth basketball players approach the game, on this episode of the SportTechie Podcast with Bram Weinstein.


  • 0

Arsene Wenger Discussed Soccer Analytics at the 2018 Paris Sport Innovation Summit

Leaders across the sports technology space gathered earlier this week for the seventh edition of the Sports Innovation Society’s Paris Sport Innovation Summit. The event, held over the last two days of October, featured 30 world class speakers and representatives from organizations such as the NBA, LaLiga, the San Francisco 49ers, the Portland Trail Blazers, MIT Sports Lab, and FC Barcelona.
Discussion topics ranged from the innovative tactics used by sports leagues and teams to enhance digital fan engagement, to the latest tracking technology used to monitor athlete performance and lifestyle on and off the field. SiS also conducted a startup competition sponsored by the French Football Federation that featured nine finalists from the athlete performance, player safety, and fan engagement sectors. The selected winners were Pocket Lab, Vald Performance, and Tracktl. Pocket Lab makes a range of small portable sensors that can stream data directly to a smart phone, Vald Performance builds movement, strength, and flexibility testing equipment, and Tracktl is a sound-design agency.
“The platform created by an event such as Sport Innovation Summit is necessary at this important period in the reinvention and revitalization of the sports industry,” said Mounir Zok, Managing Director of consulting firm N3XT Sports. “The rapid pace of technology and innovation means that we need to keep a closer watch on these trends and the SiS has allowed stakeholders across the ecosystem to come together. We are excited to be a part of this event and to help bring these topics to the innovators in the sport and tech space.”

#mc_embed_signup
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.

Zok hosted a one-on-one chat with former Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger, discussing both the present and future purpose of analytics and artificial intelligence in soccer. Wenger, who managed Arsenal from 1996 to 2018, revealed how he used technology to evaluate his players based on three main areas: perception, decision making, and execution.
“We used cameras to observe and analyze the perception of players,” said Wenger. “Following the completion of the study we realized that the top players would study their surroundings six to eight times in the 10 seconds before receiving a ball, whereas normal players only did so three to four times. This gave me an immediate opportunity to improve players by focusing on this aspect in training.”
Wenger talked about how he sees the evolution of soccer being dominated by quantification and analysis. He said that coaches will continue to take advantage of data to build their rosters and execute game flow. “The manager of the future will not even be a football [soccer] specialist,” Wenger said. “He will be a data scientist surrounding by other specialists who can breakdown every aspect of the game into quantifiable and actionable insights.”
Sport Innovation Society is also planning to host another Sports Innovation Summit in Tokyo on the last two days of November.
“At the Sport Innovation Summit, we are convinced that progress and innovation comes from bringing people together,” said Arnaud Drijard, CEO of the Sport Innovation Society. “We connect stakeholders from across the sports innovation ecosystem to drive the conversation around what’s next in sports and to determine how to stay ahead of the game.”


  • 0

Kobe Bryant Participates in $30 Million Funding Round for RingDNA

RingDNA, an enterprise sales management platform, has raised $30 million in a new funding round that was led by Goldman Sachs with participation from five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
The round included participation from previous investors Palisades Growth Capital and Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm jointly run by Bryant and Jeff Stibel.
The company, which uses “conversation data” powered by artificial intelligence to help sales teams manage their relationships with clients, said it has been cashflow positive for two years and plans to use the cash influx to power a new growth stage.
In a joint statement, Bryant and Stibel said they originally invested in ringDNA in 2014 because they believed in founder Howard Brown, his team, and saw a large and untapped market opportunity.

#mc_embed_signup
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.

“With this latest growth equity round from Goldman Sachs, RingDNA has added another world-class partner aligned with its goal of helping enterprise sales organizations analyze and learn from their game film to become smarter and more effective,” they said.
Brown said the company is focused on “augmenting, contextualizing, and training” sales reps to be better by guiding them through sales conversations. RingDNA analyzes millions of calls with deep learning, AI and psychological principles to surface patterns in calls so that reps can optimize conversations.
“Conversations are not as unique as we all assume,” he said. “There are patterns to how prospects and customers communicate with sales and support reps.”
Some of RingDNA’s existing customers include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, SAP Concur, Cvent, Lyft, and Twilio.
SportTechie Takeaway
Kobe is among the former and current professional athletes who are making a post-athletic career investing in startups. His investments have taken him in and outside the world of sports. In 2015, for example, Bryant Stibel led an early investment in the Player’s Tribune. Bryant also made a lucrative $6 million investment in the athletic drink BodyArmor. The former Lakers all-star saw his investment in the brand, which is marketed as a healthier alternative to Gatorade, rocket in value to roughly $200 million after Coca-Cola scooped up a minority stake in the company earlier this year, according to ESPN.
SportTechie selected Bryant Stibel as a nominee in the Outstanding Investor category for the 2017 SportTechie Awards.


  • 0

Tracking Social Engagement for the College Football Playoff Top Six

Data provided by sponsorship valuation company Hookit shows how the College Football Playoff top six teams fared over the last week in terms of social media engagement. Hookit tracked the likes, shares, comments, and video views for posts by each school on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Though just outside the top four, and so currently scheduled to miss out on inclusion in the Playoff games, No. 6 Georgia had the biggest bump in engagement this week, as measured by Hookit.. The Bulldog huge jump came thanks to their 36-17 victory over then-No. 13 Florida last Saturday. (And importantly for Georgia’s hopes, Florida even climbed the rankings to be picked No. 11 by the CFP committee on Tuesday.)
Being named No. 3 ahead of undefeated Notre Dame, also helped 7-1 LSU tick up in engagement on Wednesday.
(Illustration by SportTechie, Data provided by Hookit)
No. 4 Notre Dame looked like the biggest bust of this six in terms of the engagement value of its posts. The Irish had a huge 15,099 posts over the week, especially leading up to the CFP rankings on Tuesday, but only translated that into a total engagement of just over 1 million—68.7 per post. None of the other top six had less than a four figure engagement per post.
(Illustration by SportTechie, Data provided by Hookit)
YouTube was the least important social platform in terms of engagement for the CFP top six teams. Georgia marked the middle ground in terms of overall usage. Like all the other teams, the Bulldogs had comparatively low engagement on Twitter, but Georgia also had almost even engagement on both Facebook and Instagram. At the extremes, No. 1 Alabama’s engagement was predominantly through Instagram, whereas No. 2 Clemson, LSU, and No. 5 Michigan all did much better through Facebook.
(Illustration by SportTechie, Data provided by Hookit)


  • 0

Measuring Grit: How Utah Valley University Uses ShotTracker to Make Practice Perfect

Check out the Stats & Analytics Hub for the latest insights and resources on basketball data technology.
Ask Utah Valley University’s men’s basketball coach Mark Pope how his Wolverines jumped, in just one year, from 291st all the way up to 29th ranked D1 program in three-point shooting percentage and he will talk your ear off about Grit: The Passion and Power of Perseverance.
“It’s a bestselling book by Angela Duckworth where she uses her research on ‘deliberate practice’ to take the ’10,000 hour rule’ to the next level,” Pope says, referring to the commonly accepted number of hours required to attain expertise in any given field. “My guys never go to the gym just to get some shots up. Deliberate practice means using metrics and measurements to help you evaluate your progress towards a goal.”
For Pope, incorporating metrics used to be a lot easier said than done. In his first two seasons as coach of UVU, Pope and his staff manually statted their practices — a tedious, time-consuming process that too many coaches are still needlessly cursing about under their breath. But not Pope. Not anymore. Not since he discovered a revolutionary tech tool that makes statting your practice automatic: ShotTracker, the sensor-based system that instantly delivers 70+ stats and analytics in an easy-to-use app.
Among the fast-growing number of college programs installing ShotTracker in their practice gyms and arenas — including top-ranked Kansas — UVU was an early adopter.
“We are on the cutting edge of sports technology,” Pope says. “ShotTracker gives our players an opportunity to chart every single shot that they take and every single mile that they run in their individual and team workouts. As a team, it gives our guys a sense of what they are accomplishing and what they need to do to get better. The analytics it produces show us where each player is most effective and in what areas we need to improve. It’s a great tool for player development. It’s making us better.”
During the 2017-18 campaign — their first full season of ShotTracker-powered practices — the Wolverines improved much more than just their long-range marksmanship. Pope paced his team to a 23-11 record, good for 2nd place in the Western Athletic Conference and a school record for wins. (The previous year, UVU went 17-17, finishing 5th.) Pope, who was justly rewarded with a six-year contract extension, proved that having access to detailed, real-time data that goes beyond the box score, including shot charts, zone maps and more, translates into victories.
And this is precisely the result that ShotTracker was designed to produce.  “ShotTracker provides coaches with actionable insights allowing them to make the right decisions to impact the game,” says co-founder Davyeon Ross. “We’re committed to helping coaches and players get the most out of each practice and game so they’ll be in the best position to succeed.”
ShotTracker is proud to help Coach Pope and the Utah Valley University Wolverines continue to find success on the court. If you’d like to talk more about what ShotTracker can do for your team, visit https://shottracker.com/demo.


  • 0

FlightScope’s New Radar Measures Throwing Performance for Track and Field Athletes

FlightScope has released a new 3D doppler tracking radar for track and field throwers and coaches called FlightScope Athletics. The radar measures launch speed, apex height, flight time, and release angle during throws for track and field events such as the hammer throw, shot put, discus, and javelin.
FlightScope Athletics combines lightweight and portable 3D tracking radar hardware with advanced ballistic flight analysis software to track thrown objects from launch until they land. After throwing, athletes can observe their throw data in real-time via a dashboard that comes with synced video analysis and performance feedback. The product also offers a sector grouping feature to keep track of where each throw landed throughout a training session.

#mc_embed_signupbackground:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.

“For almost 20 years, we have been a trusted tool for athletes of all kinds to help improve their game,” said Henri Johnson, CEO of FlightScope, in a press release. “We are proud to introduce a product that will help a new sect of athletes, and provide reliable data for them to use to improve their skills and take them to the next level.”
Founded in 1989, FlightScope’s tracking technology has been used in golf to measure the flight statistics of golf balls hit. The company also has applications for cricket, tennis, softball, and baseball. Britney Henry, a former hammer thrower at the University of Oregon, has joined FlightScope Athletics as Head of Business Development.
“The FlightScope Athletics Radar helps throwers in so many ways—it helps track progression through a training year, giving athletes updates on where they stand physically and offering coaches data and video feedback to indicate how a thrower is progressing,” Henry said in the press release. “I am extremely humbled that FlightScope has brought me on board to show the track and field world how this technology can improve one’s throw. This is a tool I wish I had during my throwing career.”
SportTechie Takeaway
This performance tracking tool will be useful for both athletes and coaches involved in track and field throwing events. Rival doppler radar tracking company Trackman is used in MLB’s Statcast and now also in field goal tracking technology that has been part of NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football broadcast this NFL season.


  • 0

Athletigen and Altis Seek to Turn DNA Insights Into Coaching Advice

Genetic information will soon be a standard part of sports, used to customize training, personalize nutrition, and even to identify talent. Over the last few years, DNA analysis firm Athletigen and elite track and field training facility Altis have been working together to explore and develop that future.
Through collaboration, both Altis and Athletigen have been hoping to gain a head start in this race, learning what genetic information is important and how to convert that into actionable insights. A new product launched by Athletigen on Tuesday, the Altis Sport Performance Report, is hoping to bring some of what the two organizations have learned to consumers, both pro and amateur.
Altis’s athletes have been the lab rats that Athletigen can study, a population of highly fit individuals who closely follow training and nutrition protocols, generating accurate data that give context to the results from genetic testing. John Godina, a three-time Olympian who founded Altis in 2013, describes his organization as something between a training center and an educational and research institute. “[Altis] is a great science lab,” he said. “It gives us a chance to do stuff in a controlled environment that can benefit all kinds of different people.”
More than a dozen Altis-trained athletes competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse, who brought home silver from the 200m and bronze from both the 100m and 4x100m relay. Athletigen would not confirm which Altis athletes have been screened, citing privacy concerns, but the number reaches above 100. Through Altis’s apprentice coach program, Athletigen has also engaged with hundreds of coaches, and, by extension, may have impacted the training of thousands of athletes.
Akeem Haynes with his bronze medal. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
Akeem Haynes, a teammate of de Grasse both at Altis and in the 4x100m relay at Rio 2016, is quoted on Athletigen’s website about his experience with genetic testing. “Athletigen gave me different insight, gave me a slight edge … Anywhere an athlete can have a slight edge is huge.” (Haynes received financial support from Athletigen in the run up to the Games.)
When the sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2003, that effort had taken 13 years and cost $2.7 billion. Athletigen now charges $199 and takes four to six weeks to scan a person’s DNA for the different gene variants used in the Altis report. (The company scans for more than 850,000 gene variants, but the majority of these are not yet associated with athletic performance or ability.)
While Athletigen has previously offered athletes DNA-based advice, the new report is the first that is specifically tailored as a result of its work with Altis. The report offers information and advice based on more than 50 gene variants related to 22 different relevant traits, from fat metabolism to muscle growth, and caffeine sensitivity to error avoidance. Athletes are given information on how their gene variant might affect each trait, details on how common a variant is in the general population, an explanation of each gene’s role, and advice on how this knowledge could be used to adjust training, recovery, and nutrition. The aim of the report, according to CEO and cofounder Jeremy Koenig, has been to combine his company’s genetics knowledge with Atlis’s coaching experience and training recommendations.
Athletigen also includes a scientific confidence level for each trait. The highest confidence, A, requires the gene variant-to-trait association to have been tested in at least three independent studies of at least 1,000 individuals. One or more of those studies needs to have considered different ethnic groups.

Athletigen looks for genetic variations that are known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (“snips”). These are changes in a single base—the DNA letters A, C, G, and T—at a specific location, but they can also indicate larger substitutions in sections of the surrounding code. An example is the rs1815739 SNP on the ACTN3 gene of chromosome 11. This gene encodes a protein called alpha-actinin-3, which is found only in fast-twitch muscle fibers. But when the usual C at the rs1815739 location is switched out with a T, production of the protein is disrupted, favoring slow-twitch fibers instead.
Theoretically, having the CC genotype, one letter for each of the relevant bases on the maternal and paternal copies of chromosome 11, should confer an advantage in power sports—that variant has become known as the “sprint gene.” But most people with the sprint gene are not sprinters, and not all sprinters have the sprint gene. Combining various studies together implies that as many as 25% of the US population could have that variant.
Those statistics create a problem for direct-to-consumer genetic testing in sports: the sprint gene seems to be neither essential to, nor predictive of, athletic destiny. In 2015, many of the sports-genetics research initiatives being run by universities around the globe were unified under the banner of the Athlome Project, an enterprise reminiscent of the idea that started this all, the Human Genome Project. The group of 24 leading researchers behind the Athlome Project published a consensus statement in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that November warning that “genetics tests have no role to play in talent identification or the individualised prescription of training to maximise performance.” A year later, the Australian Institute of Sport echoed that opinion in the same journal, and an article by Rebecca Robbins published on STAT in November 2016 warned of this growth of genetic testing in sports, expressing concern that the science might not yet back the claims companies are making.

#mc_embed_signup
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.

Genetic variants are only classified as SNPs if they occur within at least one percent of the population, “and everything that’s present in more than one percent of the population can’t be that bad,” explained Mikael Mattsson, an exercise physiologist and researcher in a genetics lab at Stanford University. (Mattsson was also a contributor to the BJSM consensus statement against genetic testing in sports.) “And if it can’t be that bad, it can’t be super good, either.” Each SNP might also only contribute a small amount to any one trait, so to accurately determine the genetic impact on that trait could require studying tens if not hundreds of relevant SNPs.
According to Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., “We’ve jumped the gun by taking these soft markers and making too much out of them.” The problem, Topol explained, is that our ability to test for SNPs far outstrips our knowledge of their importance.

Coaches at Altis arrived at a similar conclusion to the BJSM consensus statement: There is virtually zero value in tests for variants of ACTN3. “We can look at the ACTN3 gene, and if you don’t have that, there’s nothing much we can do about it,” said Altis CEO Stuart McMillan. “So it’s not going to affect what we do in the least.”
Jeremy Koenig, who left a research job developing fertility screens at Performance Genomics to found Athletigen, emphasizes that his company has no interest in talent identification, and that sports genetics shouldn’t be about classifying gene variants as either good or bad. “You can’t really pass or fail a genetic test,” he explained.
Koenig calls DNA “our collective technology,” and lists the philosopher Alan Watts as one of his thought idols. “Things are as they are,” Watts once said. “Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
Athletigen DNA analysis kit. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
Koenig believes that the information extracted from Athletigen’s analysis can be empowering, whether or not it seems to show a genetic advantage or disadvantage. He is also careful to meter any expectations of what the results might hint at. “In some incidences we’re very confident [in the science], and in others it’s early days,” he said. “That comes back to the scientific process. Part of that scientific process is being transparent with the state of the research.”
“We’re certainly not in a space where dark chocolate and red wine are good for you one day, and the next day they’re not.”
Koenig ran track at Dalhousie University, competing in the 60m indoor sprint. He has also worked as a strength and conditioning coach, mostly with hockey players. Past clients have included former NHL players James Sheppard and Sean O’Donnell. Boston Bruins two-time All-Star Brad Marchand is quoted on Athletigen’s webpage. “In today’s NHL, simply working hard is not enough. Using Athletigen ensures that I am exhausting my efforts in the right direction. Knowing my genetics means that there is no wasted effort.”

Though Altis predominantly works with track and field athletes, Koenig sees the knowledge gained from the partnership as being relevant across all athletic disciplines. “Track and field is the foundation for all sports,” he explained.
At its core, Athletigen is a social technology company. The more athletes who sign up, the more powerful Athletigen’s database will become. Even the most ardent critics of direct-to-consumer sports genetics see huge potential in that. “In the future they might build their database and do the analysis from their data, which could be very beneficial,” Mattsson said.
“If we got the really extreme phenotype—top notch athletes—and we sequenced them,” Topol said, “we eventually will learn.”
Jeremy Koenig talks at an Altis apprentice coach program seminar. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
And Koenig emphasizes the partnership with coaches has become a key part of his company’s platform. According to Dan Pfaff, Altis’s head coach who has experience coaching athletes at 10 different Olympic Games, “Athletigen showed me how DNA can be used to help people achieve world-class performance.”
The new Altis report is designed to provide recommendations from Altis’s coaching staff based on insight on an athlete’s genetics gleaned from Athletigen’s analysis. For those who wish to know more, the report also includes videos of seminars from Altis’s apprenticeship coaching program. The aim, according to Koenig, is to combine genetics and coaching expertise without overwriting tried-and-true training methodologies. “[Not just] How do we get this into the hands of athletes,” Koenig said, “but how do we do it in a way that benefits them.”
As much as each athlete might be interested in his or her personal genetic score, Athletigen’s real product might be the community itself.


Categories

btc casino

bongdaso

Alive Directory