Advantage Love

Part 2 of a Series: Data's Reach, Resonance and Reality

The 1964 World’s Fair Pavilion is a futuristic feature of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  It is a view seasonally guaranteed; relative to my bedroom perch.  Winter’s stark and stubborn promise; known to every branch poised between the scope of my sky and the Pavilion’s prominence, has a shelf-life timed to spring’s sensibilities. 



A candid accounting of my bedroom vantage therefore, demands disclosing the Pavilion’s inevitable cloaking; imposed by the surety of spring’s standard canopy — a coefficient of broad leafy change.

The architectural duo responsible for the Pavilion’s provenance and prominence; Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin has inspired a cornucopia of schemes, debate and what-if-ideations.  A crowd-sourced Kickstarter campaign promises a 3-D rendering of the Pavilion to permanently secure its preservation as a “national treasure.”  Numerous public / private proposals have been floated; most recently by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and billionaire John Catsimatidis.   

 
For those geo-spatialists struggling to imagine my bedroom bounty; think Toronto or Seattle.  Similarly, those skylines afford a weighted, analogous presence made possible by the “observation” function of the Pavilion’s Towers. 

In the case of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the air space of nearby JFK International Airport funnels trillions of dollars; a distributed currency of the world’s cargo, people and couture to and from Queens.  

Not far from the Pavilion is the USTA where the US Open delights competitors and fans of professional tennis annually.
 
Little Maurice, a NYC Department of Parks and Recreation property is where I first began hitting tennis balls on a concrete court with a racquet I acquired on my tenth birthday. 

The footprint of players like Althea Gibson, Billy Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert reverberated in my understanding of tennis culture, play, form and finesse.  My tennis aspirations were inspired by their individual and collective excellence.  
  
On the men’s side of the court, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg weighted my tennis performance profile. 

It was a much different time.  Especially, where boundaries were assessed, pushed and transcended.  The seventies were simpler.  Sport, some feel, quite acutely, was purer.

Today, we cultivate and live with unknown quantities of distraction; intentionally pushed by technologies embedded throughout our lives, no matter our truest passions and interests.  The indifference of data, coupled with quantifiers like market-share means there is often an algorithm close at hand, associated with those essential drivers of our core being; our tastes and preferences, our innermost predictors of choice. 

Apart from what our ‘privacy’ sensibilities may be, we have access to hyper-real-reality; where corporate brands and carefully timed consumer opportunities vie for our augmented attention. 
Professional tennis, with its personalities and court-inspired performances, invite lifestyle-rich -product-driven - strategies and brand explorations.  IBM has been pursuing this fertile fact for 25 years. 

IBM’s robust, data-driven SlamTracker  offers a momentum tracking feature that captures and visually maps player momentum in real-time, point by point. SlamTracker also tracks Twitter conversations about the players on the court, identifying how much positive sentiment each player is generating throughout the match.

At the 2014 US Open, Ralph Lauren, one of the most iconic and legendary luxury brands, introduced biometrics to fans through fashion.  By selectively dressing ball boys with a simple black, fabric-enhanced, form-fitting t-shirt made recognizable by the Polo logo, the movements, frequency and speed of the ball boys was tracked.  The pace of professional tennis relies very much on ball boys / girls, so the data [biometrics] is of immediate value. 


Ralph Lauren’s fabric-enhancement was derived with the assistance of OMsignal.  The Montreal-based company is a pioneer in the “wearables” market; a taxonomy which has the technology sector all abuzz.
     
Last year, Fashion Week overlapped with the US Open; and while Mercedes Benz took the wheel with branding rights to the former, tennis superstar Serena Williams sustained double-fisted success at the USTA with her 18th Grand Slam title followed by the Fashion Week debut of her HSN - Signature Statement clothing line; aided by the media momentum of Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour of VOGUE.


Our attention, our conscious use of built-environments ever-more frequently finds us tethered to a plethora of mobile promises and pricing.   At the ready; we grip our “smart” devices and volley volumes, returning what is served up by reaching for our reserves of preferred credit cards to pay for the privilege of follow-through.  At what cost?