TechGraphs News Roundup: 9/25/2015

Before the drones assume full command of our last vestiges of leisure, we wanted to provide you with this News Roundup, which highlights the sports-tech stories from the past week that we found interesting.

First, with dispatches from the very cutting edge, our own Brice Russ was in New York City Tuesday for the On Deck Sports and Technology Conference, scoping out upcoming developments in fan-oriented technology, including MLB’s StatCast, NBA in-arena tech, localized sports networking, and more. Look for additional reports on this event from Brice in the coming days.

It’s late September, which means MLB rosters have expanded in anticipation of the playoffs. Managers’ toolkits are expanding too, as teams now are permitted to use iPads (and other companies’ tablets, presumably) in the dugout during games. The unsurprising catch is that the tablets cannot be connected to a network, and all data– such as batter spray charts and pitcher video– stored on them must be downloaded to the devices no later than three hours before game time. Also, while the devices are allowed in dugouts, bullpens currently remain off-limits, probably because bored relievers are highly susceptible to gaming addiction. So far, reports indicate the Reds and Cardinals are using iPads to some extent in their dugouts. MLB previously restricted use of Apple Watches in dugouts, and the blanket ban on cell phones remains in place. That doesn’t apply to us fans, though, which is neat because a company called Scoutee is developing an app that will turn your smartphone into baseball radar gun.

“Cord-cutting”– the process of disentangling oneself from the expensive morass of packaged cable and satellite television services– is a popular subject around these parts. While new media technology is making this beneficial transition a reality for more and more consumers, the shift is not without its human costs. As people are learning, one of the priciest television channels is ESPN, which, alone, accounts for more than $6.00 of cable and satellite subscribers’ monthly bills, regardless of whether they watch the channel. With cord-cutting on the rise, however, the Worldwide Leader may not be able to sustain its operation by spreading its costs across a broad pool of cable and satellite customers. According to a recent report, ESPN is losing “millions” of subscribers and, in light of the billions of dollars it has committed to broadcast rights for live sporting events, “is gearing up to lay off hundreds of employees to trim costs.” The move away from traditional television services isn’t a total job-killer, though: the linked story quotes John Brillhart, a Minnesota man who works full-time as a “cord-cutting consultant,” and whose name may be the secret identity of Minnesota resident and TechGraphs Managing Editor David G. Temple.

We love science at TechGraphs, and here we find a report on work by some Swedish researchers who set out to discover whether athletic success breeds further success. The study examined professional golfers and compared the performances of the last person to make the cut and the first one to miss the cut at a particular tournament– two very similar golfers– in subsequent tournaments: “In other words, they were asking, if you just happen, largely by chance, to make the cut in tournament A, does that change your odds of making the cut in tournament B?” The result was a strong “yes,” as the researchers found that the golfer who just made the cut in tournament A was much more likely to make the cut in tournament B.

I’ve long contended that the NBA offseason is more exciting than the NBA season itself, and while that contention may merely be a reflection of my personal taste, there’s no doubt that the fairly public tug of war between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers over DeAndre Jordan was one of the wildest basketball stories since the release of the last AND1 Mixtape. The modern twist on this saga was that the public largely was able to follow the developing story in real time thanks to an emoji battle on Twitter set off by Dallas’ Chandler Parsons. Now comes news that the whole thing was an accident, and that Parsons’ opening salvo actually had nothing to do with Jordan at all. Whatever you think about emojis, or even if you just read that word for the first time in your life, this story clearly illustrates the relative practical merit of New Criticism over traditional authorial intent.

In the least surprising news of the week, the NFL’s got drones now. This letter from the FAA proves it.

Yesterday, we told you that daily fantasy sports site DraftKings has expanded its offerings to include esports (i.e., competitive video game playing). Not to be left in the e-dust, DraftKings rival FanDuel responded simply by buying another site, AlphaDraft, that already offered daily fantasy contests for esports, for an undisclosed amount under $25 million. I’m as tired of the DraftKings and FanDuel advertisements as everyone else, though, so my request to the two competitors is that they not bother me until I can play daily fantasy sports daily fantasy contests. If I can bet on people playing a video game like League of Legends, I should be able to bet on somebody playing DraftKings or FanDuel.

On that metanote, we bid you a good weekend and respectfully request that you be excellent to each other.

Alec is a founding contributor at ALDLAND and a writer at Banished to the Pen and TechGraphs. He interfaces with sports twitter @ALDLANDia.

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