Is artificial intelligence more valuable in professional sports than cash? A soccer team in Dallas thinks so and might be setting a trend in the process. The time for jersey sponsorships resigning in the MLS is upon us as teams are wrapping up their offseasons and making their way back to the pitch. While some teams are simply re-signing their old sponsors and some are looking for other similar companies to sell space to, one is taking a different approach to the process by choosing a partner that brings something a little different than the usual lump sum of cash to the table.
When FC Dallas (FCD) began its search for a new sponsor, it began like it usually does, looking for “companies that have a huge presence in the market where the MLS team exists” according to FCD’s VP of Business Development. However, the search took a turn when one of the FCD executives stumbled across a Frisco-based company that had been putting its recent efforts into implementing AI to aid contact tracers to combat COVID-19. After a meeting between the club representatives and this company, they started to realize what a strategic partnership this would be. The company's name: MTX. Now, other than the non-traditional means of finding the partner, this does in total sound like a fairly normal partnership, but MTX seems to have something different to offer FCD other than cash, algorithms.
In return for the jersey space, MTX has offered FCD full implementation of their AI software into the team Youth Talent programs. This means that FCD is likely going to place some of the burden of watching thousands of hours of kids playing soccer to identify promising prospects to an AI capable of dealing with massive data sets. However, MTX doesn’t have any patents disclosing application of its technology within the realm of sports, much less talent identification. This raises the question, if MTX doesn’t, does anyone? Short answer: Not really. Most just deal with play predictions and ML for image analysis.
While this new implementation is somewhat untested, it does cause a little excitement to see new applications of technology within sports, especially when they come from fairly nontraditional routes. Keep up with the budding progression of sports analytics technology by subscribing to our Patent Forecast® for Sports Analytics.