Artificial intelligence is slowly but surely becoming an integral part of our everyday lives. From Siri telling you what you need to wear based on the local weather forecast to a delivery truck driving itself, it seems that there are no limits to what this technology can achieve. And the technology is set to evolve further in the coming year.
But for sports fans out there, there are far more interesting uses of the technology chief of which is the possibility that AI can predict sports results.
Imagine having the technology to accurately predict whether or not the Rangers would make it to the playoffs? Surely we’re stepping into Marty McFly and his book of sports results territory right here, but it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. Let’s take a closer look.
How it works
AI functions based on its interpretation of data. In the case of sports events such as a Rangers game, this data is statistical information relating to both competing teams and the players.
In simple terms, an algorithm will look at the historical data for both teams, crunch the numbers, and determine who is the most likely to win based on the laws of probability.
This is pretty much what tipsters have been doing for decades—collecting data and analyzing results to make predictions. The major difference here is that AI can cover so much more data and deliver far more accurate predictions based on that larger data sample. Oh, and it can do all of this in the blink of an eye.
Is AI already in use in sports?
AI is already in use in a variety of sports such as baseball where scouts use the technology to determine the value of players and the likelihood that they will be a success. It’s also used by some MLB teams to create virtual opponents in simulation tools that allow players to practice their skills.
In soccer, AI algorithms are used in some professional leagues to assist a referee’s on-field decisions. The most common example is in goal line technology that tells a referee instantly whether or not a ball has crossed the goal line.
What about sports betting?
It may have come to your attention that sports betting is becoming a pretty big deal across the United States. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, states have been quick to pass legislation and launch their own industries. As a result, there are now dozens of sports betting websites available in the USA.
Of course, here in Texas, we’re not quite there yet, but it seems to be just a matter of time before sportsbooks launch in the Lone Star State.
So what about AI? Can it be used to gain an edge over the sportsbooks? Well, AI will never be able to accurately predict the outcome of any sporting event, but it will certainly give a gambler an advantage.
A study carried out at Stanford has shown that AI can predict the result of a game or certain outcomes within a game with 85.5% accuracy. That’s quite impressive, but this is far beyond the reach of the average gambler right now.
What this technology is more likely to be used for is to help sportsbooks create offers and promotions based on AI’s prediction of a game. It can also be used to create odds that are a true representation of how the game will pan out, but that’s not always a good thing for the customer. Needless to say, the sportsbook won’t be too eager to offer incredible odds on a game that AI has already accurately predicted who the winner is.
That said, AI can and will get it wrong. There’s simply no accounting for human error or unexpected events such as a change in the weather or an injury to a key player in the first stages of the game.
Will it be used to predict sports results in 2022?
The answer is most likely yes, but only for those who can afford to invest heavily in such technology. Data analysts and scouting teams at sporting franchises, sports media companies, and, of course, sports betting operators will most certainly make use of the technology.
However, the days of sitting on the couch and asking Siri (or Alexa) who they think will win the Rangers game aren’t quite here yet. Until then, we’ll just have to rely on our gut instincts.