Pros and cons of virtual reality in athletics Iu is hoping to include vr for fans in the coming future but is it the best way to go?

At Indiana University the race is on to pioneer virtual reality. Virtual reality is an artificial environment that people can use for entertainment purposes. Since the first traces of virtual reality, in things like 3-D glasses in the 1900s, its process has come a long way. Fans at Indiana University will soon be able to see the games through VR. This will give the fans an experience at IU that no other university can offer.

Intro by Alejandro Delgado

HSJI students looking around while playing with VR headsets.

Pros by Eric Young

Virtual reality is a growing trend in Indiana University’s (IU) sports media coverage. It will soon be implemented at the majority of IU athletic events in the near future. Virtual reality features several positives for students, fans and athletes. Patrick Dhaene, director of new technology at IU, and Andrew Rosner, assistant athletic director at IU, are working to improve the uses of virtual reality for college athletics.

Zack Marot taking a look into the IU diving VR

Fans who are either too far away from the venue or do not want to pay the price of tickets for entertainment such as concerts and athletic events, will now be able to have the same views and sounds as attendees of the event. The views include 360 degree angles, and live sounds from the event itself.

“You can go and move the camera in any position you want, so you can go really close and really far away, so it’s pretty cool stuff,” said Dhaene. “If you can have seven camera platforms somewhere in the stadium, then you can get to choose your seat and I would pay for that.”

IU will also be able to generate revenue while using virtual reality at athletic events by distributing it to Hoosier fans who want to get the event and stadium atmosphere.

“You have to be a donor for years to even sit courtside, well now with VR we can stream that view to an infinite number of people, so the revenue that we can generate is infinite,” said Rosner. “We might lose a thousand people in the venue, but we can then make up that revenue in a very expensive premium item, we are not selling an infinite number of balcony seats.”

Virtual reality will also be able to help with the recruiting process of potential IU athletes. Recruits are able to experience authentic 360 feel with all around views, helping them experience the atmosphere of competing at IU.

Patrick Dhaene explaining the technology behind VR.

“Each coach or team is going to have one of those [virtual reality sets] and we are going to load sport-specific content, so if you’re a soccer coach, I can load all kind of things like, what one of our games is like,” said Rosner. “Now he can go to a recruit and strap that thing [virtual reality set] on and it's like bringing them here without having to bring them here, so that is going to be a good thing.”

Students at IU who are learning about sports media technology are able to get unique opportunities that others do not offer.

“These are all opportunities for students at IU to learn and participate,” said Rosner. We are the first school to do a live virtual reality broadcast.”

Phillip Steinmetz taking an inside look into IU football.

Cons by Phillip Steinmetz

Assembly Hall appears right in front of you, but it’s not the real building, but rather a virtual building thanks to virtual reality (VR) technology. With the goggles, you glance around and notice that thousands of Hoosier fans are ready to see Yogi Ferrell and company take on the Michigan Wolverines. The view is live as it’s going on. The only other way you could get this kind of view is if you pay a high price for season tickets. But will it catch on?

“Season tickets are around $700 but courtside seats require a minimum of $25,000 donation,” said assistant Athletic Director, Andrew Rosmer.

This augmented reality is new a way for fans to view sporting events in their living rooms or anywhere that it’s offered. This technology is only being used at Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium as of now, and Indiana University hopes to be the first school to have VR for the fans.

Some think VR will never take the place of the “real” experience. “I love the atmosphere of going to Assembly Hall,” said Greenwood HS senior Zack Marot. “It wouldn’t feel the same if I was sitting home with goggles on. Nothing beats actually being there in that atmosphere.”

Those developing the system seem to agree. “I personally have a VR headset I keep at home and I tuned into the political debates and things in VR and from that perspective it didn’t make me want to switch from my laptop on Youtube, it’s more of a gimmick,” said IUPUI programmer Chauncey Frend.

Soon, fans will be able to see their Hoosiers in virtual reality action without going to the game, but is it really worth it? Nothing beats being around thousands of fans screaming for the same team as you. If you are stuck in VR you will be missing out on that thrilling experience.

“I would say people attending sporting events likely won’t change because there is more of an experience you will gain at the stadium that you won’t get in VR because remember the stimulus is just visible and audible in video,” said Frend. “Then you can add in interaction to what computers can do so at the stadium you are eating food, smelling smells, drinking things, talking to people and all of that is a part of the experiential value that doesn’t exist in VR.”

There are numerous positives for fans if they use VR, but nothing will ever match the rush of being there side by side with other Hoosier fans.

Andrew De Paolantonio getting lost inside VR.

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