While Serena Williams stretches her hamstrings, the network at the US Tennis Association (USTA) stretches its bandwidth. The US Open, one of the biggest tennis competitions of the year -- and two of the busiest weeks in USTA CIO Larry Bonfante's year -- begins today.
Bonfante graciously let me visit him courtside at the USTA campus in Queens (the best of New York City's five boroughs, because I live there) to give us the inside scoop on the IT powering this enormous event. Here's what he had to say:
After the tennis stars are awarded their trophies Sept. 9, the USTA's IT team really ought to be given its own trophies. These professionals can't rest on their laurels, though, because the entire USTA campus is about to undergo major renovations. New state-of-the-art stadiums will be erected. Bonfante told me that when we visit again in five years, we won't even recognize the place.
What do you think of the technology running this event? Would you want Bonfante's job? Or would you prefer something in which you don't run the risk of angering some of the strongest, fittest athletes on the planet? Speaking of athletes, which competitor do you think will emerge victorious in this year's US Open? Let us know in the comments below.
The incorporation of IT in sports is really necessary, watching sports is all about celebrating the scores for the moment thus the IT will likely cover the entire game without any one missing any hit, shot or touchdown just because they had to visit the gents. The extreme sports like surfing, skydiving and biking should incorporate more of the IT equipment to show the tricks and flips in more detail for the viewers' pleasure.
@Susan It is unfortunate, but it's the problem with nearly all women's sports. Tennis is the only major pro sport that really gives women equal attention.
It's all very complex. Sports still don't know how to treat women athletes, because there's some sort of debate over whether or not they're women OR athletes -- as though the two are mutually exclusive. The debate always crops up when the conversation of uniforms comes in -- maybe that's why it's a bigger challenge for team sports than for individual sports.
@a.saji Sports has a very interesting relationship with technology too. For example, baseball still doesn't use instant replay, which is such a basic tech tool. I understand it to some degree -- sports are about minds and bodies, not bits and bytes. And there is a value in simple tradition. But in some cases I don't understand the resistance.
@Susan @Curt The female athlete that grabbed my attention most in my younger years was Flo Jo. I did run track, but I was never able to run quite as fast as she could or grow my nails as long as she could.
My favorite athletes, period, have always been basketball players, though.
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