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How GameChanger Uses AI to Track and Analyze Youth Sports Games

  • GameChanger provides mobile apps and services for capturing content from youth sports.
  • It uses AI to recognize video images and automatically detect and track fast-moving sports action.
  • This article is part of “CXO AI Playbook” — straight talk from business leaders on how they’re testing and using AI.

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For “CXO AI Playbook,” Business Insider takes a look at mini case studies about AI adoption across industries, company sizes, and technology DNA. We’ve asked each of the featured companies to tell us about the problems they’re trying to solve with AI, who’s making these decisions internally, and their vision for using AI in the future.

GameChanger’s livestreaming and team-management technology has been used by parents of child athletes and amateur team coaches for more than a decade.

Users capture more than 7 million games annually through the smartphone app, with more than 750,000 teams using the platform each year.

GameChanger is based in New York City and owned and operated by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Situation analysis: What problem was GameChanger trying to solve?

The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health found that in 2022, about 53.8% of children between 6 and 17 years old played on a sports team or took sports lessons after school or on the weekends.

Capturing highlight videos and recording statistics in youth sports can be a big challenge.

“The capture of it is very complicated and very hard to scale,” Sameer Ahuja, the president of GameChanger, said. Think of all the moving players in an average basketball game crisscrossing one another and how hard it is to pick out the ball — or your child — from all those bodies.

Traditionally, coaches, parents, or volunteers manually scored games and captured video using their own tools, which could be time-consuming and increase the risk of errors.

Sameer Ahuja speaking at GameChanger event

GameChanger’s AI system allows for quick analysis and tracking of stats for youth sports.

Courtesy of GameChanger

GameChanger wanted to use artificial intelligence to automate as much of the process as possible for parents and coaches.

“If you can supplement what they’re doing with automation, you can capture all this content,” Ahuja said.

Key staff and partners

GameChanger’s AI initiative was a collaboration between Ahuja, his fellow senior leaders at the company, and its product and engineering teams. No third-party providers were involved because the company wanted to maintain control over the user experience.

Ahuja told Business Insider that GameChanger’s leadership team decided to develop the technology in-house: “We took iterative steps and brought on a couple of people. We didn’t want to outsource it.”

AI in action

GameChanger used its large, proprietary dataset of footage from youth sports to train AI computer-vision models for various tasks, such as detecting a ball, identifying the players and the areas they occupy, tracking ball motion to detect scoring events, and localizing where on the field the action took place.

GameChanger focuses on sports that its algorithms can easily track, Ahuja said, such as basketball and volleyball, with plans to expand to freer-flowing sports with more players on a field, such as soccer.

The computer-vision program enables GameChanger’s apps to automatically capture highlights, track stats, provide radio-style commentary of the game action, and more. According to its website, GameChanger has worked with organizations, including Little League, USA Baseball, and PGC Basketball, to cover more than 35 million games since the launch of its app in 2010.

Man at baseball field using GameChanger app

Coaches and league leaders can use GameChanger’s features such as scorekeeping.


Did it work, and how did leaders know?

Ahuja said success metrics included more teams creating automated game recordings for entire seasons, high levels of user engagement, and passionate feedback — both positive and constructive.

“Taking that content and delivering it to mom and dad, to grandma and grandpa, is literally a delight,” Ahuja said.

What’s next?

GameChanger plans to continue expanding its AI-powered automation to sports beyond basketball and volleyball, like football, soccer, and lacrosse.

“I think we’ll stay focused on team sports,” Ahuja said, adding that he’s personally excited about including cricket because he grew up with the sport and wanted to expand to an international audience. 

The company is also planning to expand its engineering and product teams to bolster its AI competency.

Beyond that, Ahuja intends to continue releasing updates to the technology. So far, the company has rolled out updates about every two weeks as it continues to tweak the product based on user feedback.

Eventually, Ahuja said he hoped to reach his ultimate goal for the app: “a set-it-and-forget-it experience.”

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Originally Appeared Here

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