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How Technology is Changing Athletic Scouting

(This is a guest article by Anthony Alsop)

Technology helps us do a lot of things; it saves time, saves lives and is now beginning to save the careers of sports executives. With sports being a multi-billion dollar industry, professional teams, and more specifically scouts are looking for anything that can give them the edge over their opponents.

Enter technology.

Traditional scouting methods meant a scout had to be out on the road, staying in hotels and costing teams money. Today, scouts can sit on their couch watch their latest prospect. Even if they can’t watch him or her on live television, they can get a DVD made up of highlights and watch that instead. With technology allowing us to become more mobile than ever, why should teams go out to the world, when the world now comes to them?

In 2006, Major League Baseball’s draft lasted 50 rounds, and had over 1500 players picked. The National Football League’s draft lasts for only seven rounds with 256 picks typically made. With sports executives being put under time constraints more than ever, how can they effectively research all these prospects?

Shae McNamara is a native of Whitefish Bay, WI. Born and bred in the Mid West, he grew up wanting to be a professional basketball or football player. At 6’8, he was a natural on the hardwood, or he could become one of the most awkward wide receivers to guard in NFL history. He played college basketball and was eventually offered to play basketball professionally in Germany. He did this for a year, but when he returned home to the States, he stumbled upon Australian Rules Football on Youtube. He taught himself the game from watching Youtube, created a workout video of himself on the field, and was given the contact details of a team named the Sydney Swans. The Swans found him via coaching legend Digger Phelps, who had asked his contacts to search for someone in the NCAA that might be able to crossover to play AFL.

Wanting to follow up the interest, Shae found the contact details of 10 other teams via Google, as well as sports agents across Australia that looked after AFL players. With six offers waiting for him to continue playing basketball in Europe, he took a gamble with his career on a game that offered him no guarantees, and one that he had no experience playing.

Australian recruiters watched the Youtube video, liked what they saw, and arranged for a workout to be held in Las Vegas. Standing 6’8 and being an ideal player for the Australian game,  five months after he posted originally posted his highlight video, Shae was recruited by the Collingwood Football Club, one of the premier teams in the league. He is currently playing in the VFL (AAA equivalent) and can be called up to the majors at any time. He is now playing Australian Rules football professionally and wants to take the game global, with the help of technology of course.

The world is becoming smaller everyday and the internet and mobile devices are driving that. We are seeing bizarre things happen around the sports world on a daily basis. There is now an American playing Australian Rules football. Players from Italy and China have been drafted number one in the NBA and there are Japanese, Koreans and Thai’s playing across the best soccer leagues of Europe.

The competition is getting tougher and tougher. As you look around the globe, our games have never been more skilled both on and off the field. Shae’s team now uses a hyperbaric altitude room that recreates the atmospheric pressure of the mountains in Arizona for fitness trainin, whilst still being in the cold winter of Australia.

Technology makes recruiting cheaper than ever before. There is no longer a need to send scouts overseas, inter-state, or even down the road. Youtube was able to take a Wisconsin native playing basketball in Germany, to playing Australian Rules football on the other side of the world. What is technology doing for your sports team?

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Anthony Alsop is a blogger, consultant and founder of sportspiel.com.au. He has worked previously in both the IT and sport sectors, so focusing on the niche of social media and sport was a natural fit. Anthony is from Melbourne, Australia which was recently named the sporting capital of the world and has consulted with sporting organisations both in Australia and in the United States. He is also running Australia’s premier sport and social media event, the Digital Sport Summit. You can find him on Twitter @anthonyalsop or via email

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3 Responses to How Technology is Changing Athletic Scouting

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