I love sports—playing, watching, you name it. But the sports experience has changed so much over the past few years, in new and exciting ways, which makes being a fan or being a player more dynamic – and way more fun.

Growing up playing basketball, we’d play the game, feed off our fans’ energy and cheers, celebrate when we won, and then challenge the next team!

But today, fans are tweeting messages to their favorite players and players are wearing sensors to track their performance—it’s a whole new ballgame. With the transitions we’ve seen in mobile, cloud and the Internet of Everything (IoE), so much has changed—and will continue to change—how we engage with our favorite teams.

I’d even venture to say that the fan-player relationship is now personal. You used to be able to only enjoy a game at the stadium where it was being played, or by listening to the radio or watching TV. You certainly couldn’t share your thoughts on the game with the players playing, except by screaming at them – or the TV.

Innovations in streaming video, live broadcasting and social media, have made today’s experience radically different. Wi-Fi-enabled sports arenas, combined with the huge expansion in mobile capabilities, mean that fans can watch the game live, watch on TV, or via an app on their smart device. Anyone out there like watching the hoop cam during a game?

If you’re on Twitter, when you’re unhappy with a player’s performance (never happens!) or want to congratulate them on a great play—you can tweet him or her directly! During the game! And the player can read it on his or her mobile and tweet you back—though ideally, they really should be focused on the game and not on the phone, if you ask me.

Beyond the way fans watch sports, technology is also expanding what we know about sports strategy and player performance. With movies like “Moneyball,” we’ve seen how statistics have a new understanding of analytics-based strategy in sports. Yet with innovations brought to life by IoE, wearables, and data analytics, we are extending our knowledge of sports beyond common statistics like the number of points, assists and turnovers. Teams even have a position in the front office solely dedicated to analytics.

Sensors can now be built into most athletic gear, such as jerseys, to provide a wealth of new data that could potentially change how sports are played and improve a player’s health and performance.

In fact, during a recent panel hosted by Cisco, David Cho, Adidas Director of NBA Partnerships, shared how monitoring a player’s heart rate during gameplay can help coaches decide when they should take a player off the court before reaching fatigue and his performance takes a dive.

For fans, this new, fascinating kind of data presents even more opportunities to enrich the relationship between fan and player. Imagine owning a FitBit or Jawbone that tells you how fast you run in comparison to LeBron – or shoes that measure your balance so you can improve your three-pointers and start scoring like Steph Curry.

Cisco’s innovations bring all these sorts of possibilities to life, and they certainly make me a more passionate and connected fan. This past month, Cisco has been celebrating our technology partnership with the NBA with activities at the NBA All-Stars 2015 game, and hosting The Most #ConnectedFan contest. How has technology has enabled you to connect with your favorite sports team and players? Share your thoughts with us via Twitter and Facebook, using the #ConnectedFan #contest hashtags.

All of the innovation that’s available to us today has truly changed what it means to be a fan. And I can’t wait to see all that there is to come. The advancements in technology will continue to reshape and enhance the modern fan experience. Be sure to visit the blog again on March 16th to see which teams many of us at Cisco are banking on to be in the Final Four. Go Heels!


Chuck Robbins

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Cisco Systems, Inc.