The Future of Sports: The 560 Kids of Ontario Junior Hockey
- Nov 7th 2022
- Grant Furlane, Locomobi World
The Ontario Junior Hockey League prides itself on being on the cutting edge of player advancement today. Their philosophy is geared towards more than just creating the best players yet to the development of young men through hockey. They strive to address the whole individual through the medium of hockey.
The advent of Covid affected the game in many ways. It was difficult for the kids to stop practicing, and experience a disadvantage competing against the US which didn’t shut down. It meant the potential loss of scholarships and a shot at the pro’s. It was scary looking at the number of kids missing out and created a mindset that things would change.
Ontario is the center of hockey in Canada. The Ontario Junior Hockey League is one of nine junior leagues. There are twenty-two junior leagues and 70% of these kids move onto higher leagues. The idea is to always keep the kids moving up and encourage them to be their best. As part of the support system, there is a mental health program for junior ages.
Hockey is a big business in Canada and as such, it is organized as a business model. The folks in charge have been quick to embrace AI and Analytics as the best way to highlight the leagues. Social media platforms are used to create content and increase viewer attendance. Analytics can more easily identify promising players and target who should be recruited.
With AI you can be in five places at once and none of them need to be a freezing ice rink. When you talk about a multi-million-dollar program, it pays to track the ten to fifteen star players that stand out in any given year. Players can register by online mobile registration; all they need is a mobile phone. AI facial recognition can guarantee the player’s identity. There is no end to the advantages.
The need for intelligent information becomes crucial as we move towards smart cities. Analytics can enhance scheduling, and venues, identify markets and track the movement of players through the province. The difference between pre and post-Covid of how things are done is night and day. As new venues come up tech has to be up to speed to compete.
Enhanced analytics in sports means that whoever has the talent will not be overlooked anymore. The blue-collar mentality of how teams were picked has quickly been overcome by the obvious efficiency of AI which benefits the kids, the reason for it all. The owners have bought into the strategy and formed partnerships with high-tech companies.
Some of the new processes involve chips implanted in jerseys, ads on jerseys for identification, and facial recognition. AI can identify the player and upload a player’s speed and location throughout the year. The legacy buildings of the future smart cities will have AI tech embedded in the construction framework, meaning the metaverse will play a major part in advancing the sport.
The smart building will have bandwidth communication to interface with everything and can link AI to all other sports. Things will move beyond just hockey. The metaverse is destined to play a big part in sports. The use of probability as a prediction tool is a given. There will be a leading-edge high-tech group in this low-tech industry. The evolution of hockey will be taken to another level.
An owner will be able to code his own team. This could apply to coding video games and assimilating the game bringing a whole other dimension to hockey. The metaverse will move the game to different platforms while enhancing the actual players on the ground.
The question of why a player should choose the Ontario Junior Hockey League is quite common. It is considered to have the best minor system in the world and the only one with televised games. The kids are given the opportunity to move up. If in fact, they have what it takes, the foundation is still there for them.
The foundation will push kids in another direction, never giving up on them. It is still a multi-level program, and the mantra is to develop young men through hockey. Whatever path they end up choosing in life their time with the junior league will have been instrumental in shaping them.
Along with the physical opportunities to be the best they can be, the mental health program will address any lack of self-esteem and ambition they may have. The organizers truly believe that this program is the best in the province and they will do whatever it takes to promote their kids and guide them to achieve their dreams.