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NBC Thinks Connected Gloves and "Bullet Time" Can Make Boxing Cool 169

New submitter Lashdots writes with this excerpt from a piece at Fast Company about what may be the future of boxing, at least from the perspective of television audiences. "Right now, millennials turn boxing on and they're like, 'Who's winning? I don't get this,'" said Anthony Bailey. The chief technology officer of NBC's Premier Boxing Champions was watching a pair of fighters spar—each wearing sensor-equipped boxing gloves—in preparation for this weekend's fight, the first to be broadcast on NBC's primetime slot (8:30 pm EST) in 30 years. "These guys are real athletes. It's not just two guys going out in the ring trying to beat the crap out of each other. It's two guys that actually have strategy. They're actually thinking."

In a makeshift television studio here last month, Bailey, a team of engineers, and some of boxing's heaviest hitters were working to make that thinking a little more visible—in HD, with video-game-like graphics and Matrix-like camera angles. It's one part of an ambitious multimillion-dollar effort by NBC and some of boxing's biggest names to gain an edge against popular competitors like mixed martial arts, and to draw in younger, more casual audiences who may never have thought about watching before.
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NBC Thinks Connected Gloves and "Bullet Time" Can Make Boxing Cool

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  • I'm still not gonna watch until they start using Street Fighter sound effects along with those new graphics... ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2015 @07:05AM (#49203815)

    ...beating people up for entertainment is something I wouldn't mind society moving on from.

    It's not even like it's a high risk side effect of the sport - physically harming the other person (temporarily is necessary, but permanently is often the result) is the whole aim. For anyone with half an ounce of empathy, watching two people fight is like feeling you are being beaten up. That's not entertainment, but either sadism or masochism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 )

      ...beating people up for entertainment is something I wouldn't mind society moving on from.

      It's not even like it's a high risk side effect of the sport - physically harming the other person (temporarily is necessary, but permanently is often the result) is the whole aim. For anyone with half an ounce of empathy, watching two people fight is like feeling you are being beaten up. That's not entertainment, but either sadism or masochism.

      Slight correction needed here.

      It's a touch of cruelty to watch two boxers beat the shit out of each other, which is likely why this sport should be considered the one the audience should be moving on from.

      When it's hard to find even a career-ending injury in a sport like MMA, trying to overlay the deadly statistics of boxing on top of all fighting sports is not just short-sighted. It's downright wrong.

      UFC has proven rather soundly for twenty five years that fighting can be done for entertainment and sport

      • Post traumatic encephalopathy.

        • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday March 07, 2015 @08:49AM (#49204005)

          Post traumatic encephalopathy.

          ...from a fight in 1998 hosted by the Pride organization with considerably different rules that is now closed.

          It's also undetermined if the CTE damage wasn't caused by an even longer career of kickboxing, a related sport to UFC but also with different rules and strategies. (and damage risk)

          The UFC rules have morphed and changed over the years, and more often than not I've seen a fight stopped early (or my interpretation of early) in order to adhere to the overall rule of protecting the fighter.

          I said it was hard to find a career-ending injury. And I was right. You found one in twenty five years of the sport.

          I'm not some huge fan of UFC either, but I am aware of the difference that organization has brought to MMA in the way of safety, as their track record in a violent sport speaks volumes.

          • by Nyder ( 754090 )

            Post traumatic encephalopathy.

            ...from a fight in 1998 hosted by the Pride organization with considerably different rules that is now closed.

            It's also undetermined if the CTE damage wasn't caused by an even longer career of kickboxing, a related sport to UFC but also with different rules and strategies. (and damage risk)

            The UFC rules have morphed and changed over the years, and more often than not I've seen a fight stopped early (or my interpretation of early) in order to adhere to the overall rule of protecting the fighter.

            I said it was hard to find a career-ending injury. And I was right. You found one in twenty five years of the sport.

            I'm not some huge fan of UFC either, but I am aware of the difference that organization has brought to MMA in the way of safety, as their track record in a violent sport speaks volumes.

            American Football has more career ending injuries then MMA does.

            • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

              American Football has more career ending injuries then MMA does.

              Of course there is, when there's a thousand football players for every MMA fighter. You can find football programs at most colleges and high schools in the U.S. - can you name a school that has one for MMA?

              • Wrestling (Score:4, Informative)

                by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Saturday March 07, 2015 @05:15PM (#49206319)

                Of course there is, when there's a thousand football players for every MMA fighter. You can find football programs at most colleges and high schools in the U.S. - can you name a school that has one for MMA?

                Sort of. It's called wrestling and yes, lots of schools have wrestling programs. A huge percentage (probably the majority) of MMA fighters these days got much of their early training in wrestling and wrestling is a vital skill in MMA. Serious long term injuries are actually rather rare in wrestling and even MMA despite the very physical nature of the sports. I've been a wrestler and coach of wrestling for over 30 years and I can show you the injury statistics for that sport. I've seen similar statistics for MMA. It's far safer than you might guess as a casual observer. Certainly far safer than football on both an absolute and per-capita basis. That's not to imply there are no dangers or that serious injuries cannot result, just that it's much safer than you might think.

                The reason there are surprising few long term injuries in MMA (and wrestling) is two-fold. 1) the rules are designed such that techniques likely to result in severe injury are illegal. 2) There is one official for two contestants and he is standing just a few feet away and is empowered to stop the match if an injury seems likely. That makes a HUGE difference. The sports are physical and sure there are plenty of bumps and bruises but stuff like broken limbs or torn ligaments simply don't happen often because the match gets stopped most of the time before that becomes possible. In football that isn't the case. In football the rules are designed such that certain injuries (particularly knee injuries and concussions) are ludicrously routine. Go into any sports medicine clinic and I can almost guarantee the majority of the patients there will be football players with serious knee injuries.

          • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

            I said it was hard to find a career-ending injury. And I was right. You found one in twenty five years of the sport.

            Even when retirement [espn.co.uk] is a synonym for "career ending injury"?

            • I said it was hard to find a career-ending injury. And I was right. You found one in twenty five years of the sport.

              Even when retirement [espn.co.uk] is a synonym for "career ending injury"?

              The vast majority of those injuries happen during training, and wouldn't have been career-ending if they happened in a fight because there isn't always a doctor on hand during training, but there is at the fight. At the fight the injury gets evaluated immediately, and the limb is properly immobilized in the locker room, and the fighter transported immediately to a surgical facility if needed. In training, first you wait to see if it gets better on its own, and if it is actually serious, you've damaged it mo

              • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

                The vast majority of those injuries happen during training

                Then that's some piss poor training, if you're more likely to be concussed or tear a muscle than when facing someone who's actively trying to win by KO/TKO/submission.

                Also, a lot of the "career ending" injuries are actually treatable, and the reason it is career-ending is because the fighter doesn't earn enough money fighting to warrant investing in the corrective surgery.

                Nice distinction. Where's the difference?

                Amusingly, your link doesn't even tal

        • by tchdab1 ( 164848 )

          When will we see real-time brain injury analysis like "Wow Bob, that left hook to the face just left him with a level 6 concussive trauma that will mean severe aphasia in 12 years - he won't be able to say ****."

          • It is easily within current capabilities to put accelerometers on helmets and have them record the impact forces, but this would spoil all the fun of people harming each other for sport and profit. Until the public turns away from head-injury sports, they will be with us, and the aftermath of all those head injuries will be with us and our health care system for years to come.

            • Until the public turns away from head-injury sports, they will be with us, and the aftermath of all those head injuries will be with us and our health care system for years to come.

              Which is precisely why these matches should be fought to the death! It's a lot more exciting for the spectators, you almost never see anyone take a dive because they've been paid off by some gambling cartel, and there are no pesky lingering injuries. There are no downsides! Well, except for the loser I guess, but isn't that wh

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by anmre ( 2956771 )

        So ... you enjoy watching UFC fights because its somehow less barbaric than boxing? Every time I'm at a bar, there is at least one television showing UFC. The only difference I observe from boxing is that it's two barbarians trying to kill each other on the ground, vs standing up.

        But please, do continue parroting Sports Center about the virtues of one blood sport over another.

        • by Nyder ( 754090 )

          So ... you enjoy watching UFC fights because its somehow less barbaric than boxing? Every time I'm at a bar, there is at least one television showing UFC. The only difference I observe from boxing is that it's two barbarians trying to kill each other on the ground, vs standing up.

          But please, do continue parroting Sports Center about the virtues of one blood sport over another.

          Spoken like someone who actually has never seen the sports.

          No one tries to kill each other, while sometimes there are grudge matches, everyone tends to respect their opponent in the ring. No one is trying to kill each other, they are trying to win.

          Not to mention these people train hard and work hard to do this. It is there decision, no one is forced into it. So you and others like you need to get off your high horse and accept that there is things in this world that people like to do that you do not l

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          By your measure, fencing is a blood sport. It's swords and hitting people with them.
          • One time in fencing class we were trying out "saber" style, which mimics combat from horseback. I managed to parry my opponent's attack with enough force to cut the end off of his saber, including the protective plastic tip! We both made another lunge at each other (in saber style you're expected to attack recklessly, not take turns) before we noticed the equipment malfunction. I was lucky he didn't stab me in the heart, or (he wasn't that big, really) poke my eye out.

            In all the weapons training I did, none

        • You should watch the movie Karate Kid, you might discover that while there are some barbarians in martial arts, (as there are some in all things) there is also a non-barbaric tradition of martial arts, and it generally empowers the defender more than the attacker, and is used to decrease violence, not increase it. Historically, when martial arts is intended to kill, weapons are used. When it is practiced without a weapon, it is almost always regarded as a means to enforce peace.

          It is true that sometimes uns

        • So ... you enjoy watching UFC fights because its somehow less barbaric than boxing? Every time I'm at a bar, there is at least one television showing UFC. The only difference I observe from boxing is that it's two barbarians trying to kill each other on the ground, vs standing up.

          But please, do continue parroting Sports Center about the virtues of one blood sport over another.

          Clearly you enjoy attacking this class of sports without knowing and understanding the difference between them.

          Feel better knowing your golfers will die much slower from skin cancer while entertaining you.

      • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Saturday March 07, 2015 @11:03AM (#49204377) Journal

        I must say that your statements are pure BS. Fighting in MMA causes just as much if not more brain injury, as (pure) boxing.
        Right now, almost every veteran MMA fighter suffers from symptoms of brain injury. Here's a partial list:
        Jens Pulver
        Gabriel Gonzaga
        Mirko Filipovic
        Frank Trigg
        Chuck Liddell
        Mark Munoz
        Antonio Silva
        Wanderlei Silva
        Alistair Overeem
        Phil Baroni
        Gary Goodridge
        Andrei Arlovski
        Josh Koscheck
        Cheick Kongo

        and the list goes on. And it doesn't even include the journeymen that get punched in the head for a $300 payout on regional circuits, as a matter of fact for their whole careers.

        • That is absolute hogwash. You might want to cite a source, because many of those fighters are still fighting, and if they had an existing known brain injury, they wouldn't be cleared to fight.

          Presumably you just grabbed a list of fighters who received automatic post-fight suspensions because of (presumed) mild concussions. If you get knocked out during a fight, there is an automatic "injury suspension" given out by the fight commission. That is based on possibility of injury, not an actual medical diagnosis

        • I must say that your statements are pure BS. Fighting in MMA causes just as much if not more brain injury, as (pure) boxing. Right now, almost every veteran MMA fighter suffers from symptoms of brain injury. Here's a partial list: Jens Pulver Gabriel Gonzaga Mirko Filipovic Frank Trigg Chuck Liddell Mark Munoz Antonio Silva Wanderlei Silva Alistair Overeem Phil Baroni Gary Goodridge Andrei Arlovski Josh Koscheck Cheick Kongo

          and the list goes on. And it doesn't even include the journeymen that get punched in the head for a $300 payout on regional circuits, as a matter of fact for their whole careers.

          And yet I just saw Josh Koshcheck fight in the ring a week ago??

          Sorry, but you're going to have to do more than provide a list of fighters whom some are still active in the sport to justify your claim here. Obviously if they're still fighting and able to well, whatever "symptoms" they have are far from even career stopping, much less career ending.

          Deaths have occurred in just about every other violent sport, both during the actual event and after the fact, and when comparing apples to apples here, UFC is

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        You're conveniently ignoring the long term effects of concussions. Both mma and boxing likely have far more head impacts than football or hockey.
        • If by football you meant soccer, then that is true. If you meant American football, absolutely false, and not even a close one, assuming we're only measuring significant impacts that could cause a concussion.

          Hockey, I don't believe it without seeing empirical impact data.

          In an MMA fight, if you take a blow to the head that leaves you dazed for a few seconds, it is usually the end of the fight. In those other sports, everybody would stand in a circle around you for a minute, and if you appeared to have recov

      • This is towards GP, but the site seems to be terminally messed up right now so I will just put this here.

        ...beating people up for entertainment is something I wouldn't mind society moving on from.

        It's not even like it's a high risk side effect of the sport - physically harming the other person (temporarily is necessary, but permanently is often the result) is the whole aim. For anyone with half an ounce of empathy, watching two people fight is like feeling you are being beaten up. That's not entertainment, but either sadism or masochism.

        Boxing is pretty bad, as far as permanent damage goes in professional sports. American Football is neck and neck with it. The longtime participants of either don't tend to live very long lives. Probably rugby as well, not to mention kick-boxing. I grappled for 6 years before being exposed to striking in MMA. This resulted in a striking style tended to be pretty flat-footed combined with a high pain tole

      • Almost all the career ending injuring that happen to MMA fighters happen during training. The safety level is comparable to other athletic events. The action is all indoor in a highly controlled field, and action can be stopped very quickly. So it is much, much safer than something like cycling, or distance running. A marathon runner who has an accident might not get medical attention for full minutes. An MMA fighter will have a qualified doctor working on their injury within a few seconds if it happens dur

    • I guess I have no empathy. Boxing can be viewed on multiple levels but one of the best is the art of self-defense. How does one block, parry or otherwise avoid punches. Think of playing baseball or tennis - sometimes you swing hard and barely hit the ball, other times a smooth stroke, hitting the ball in the sweet spot and wham you hit it a million miles an hour. The same is true in boxing but now your facing a ball that reacts to your swing. By moving your body a few inches closer or further away you can d
    • by gijoel ( 628142 )
      If you're going to make the argument that we should ban sports because they harm players then we should ban sports like Gridiron [wikipedia.org], rugby [rugby.com.au] and horse riding. [smh.com.au]

      Hell, you could argue that other professional sports such as swimming, bike riding, and track are dangerous because they encourage the use of sport's enhancing drugs.
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Done right, horse riding should cause no harm. It causes risk. There's a difference. You can do boxing right, and end up dead. Without mistakes or bad luck, jockey isn't dangerous. But boxing and American football will, when done "right" have a high chance of causing permanent injury.
  • "There's nothing wrong with boxing. It's the great working-class escape. Just sport, like any other. Two athletes at the peak of physical perfection trying to outwit each other in a ring of combat. At its best, it's an art form."
    "Female topless boxing?"
    "It's art to me."

  • Nice (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Saturday March 07, 2015 @07:38AM (#49203887)

    So in a couple of years, we can look back and tell:

    That's the hit that got him Parkinson's.

    • Liar! Everyone knows that [profitable thing] does not cause [expensive health problem].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2015 @07:55AM (#49203903)

    Put telelemetry and accelerometers on the boxers and their gloves to see the g forces on heads and brains. Model damage from a physicians perspective in both sports medicineband neurology.

    If we can bullet time boxing gloves, we can also collect valuable information to treat future cases of brain trauma.

  • Real time scoring that is shown as soon as a point is made would be effective. Some honest judges, referees would help too. Agents and managers that did not leave their fighters destitute would also be a improvement.
    • by rHBa ( 976986 )

      Real time scoring that is shown as soon as a point is made would be effective.

      Like they have in Olympic boxing.

  • They have a strategy? They're actually thinking? It's not just two guys beating the shit out of each other? So?

    Take "E-Sports". They have a strategy. They are actually thinking. They're not just two guys playing a computer gam... eh... well... can I get back on this one?

    • They have a strategy? They're actually thinking? It's not just two guys beating the shit out of each other? So?

      Not only does boxing have a great deal of strategy and thinking, but there's actually something on the line, unlike eSports.

      I wonder how well eAthletes would fare if there was a component of physical confrontation in eSports? One thing for sure, you would hear a lot less of the "I'm gonna rape you so hard" trash-talking of eSports.

      • So because in boxing you can get lasting, crippling effects to your body it's a "sport"?

        Where exactly does the healthy bit come in?

        But aside of snide comments, by the same logic smoking is a sport. Make it competitive and you have the same components as in boxing.

        • I trained in boxing for a year and a half. I've been a runner for 20+. The cardio output required in boxing is significantly higher than running. That's where the "healthy" bit comes in. If you've never tried it, you have absolutely no idea what incredibly good shape you have to be in to compete.

          Yes, I grant that getting punched in the head hard is not good, but other spotrs have their risks as well. I used to rock climb a lot. The risk profile there is that you're pretty likely to never get injured,

          • Everything has risks. I'm against decrying one activity because YOU don't like it's risk profile.

            That's right. As long as the risks are spelled out in advance and only to the practitioners, there's no problem.

        • Where exactly does the healthy bit come in?

          First, I didn't say anything about "healthy".

          Second, not all boxing is professional prize-fighting, which is where the head injuries come from. No protective headgear, refs who are unwilling to stop fights because of the big broadcast money, etc.

          My point was that boxing requires a significant amount of strategy and thought. Not that it was some healthy pastime. I boxed for years, but would never have my kid go into boxing. On the other hand, I had no problem le

      • ? One thing for sure, you would hear a lot less of the "I'm gonna rape you so hard" trash-talking of eSports.

        Oh yeah boxers never talk shit about opponents.

        • Oh yeah boxers never talk shit about opponents.

          They do, but the consequences are rather greater and more direct than tweeting it out.

    • Chess is similar to boxing. You need to develop a strategy, and you need to think two or three steps ahead about what your opponent is doing. You have to be smart. But what’s the difference between chess and boxing? In chess, nobody is an expert, but everybody plays. In boxing everybody is an expert, but nobody fights.”

      Vitali Klitschko
  • So, you want to enable the audience to hold a judges card and help choose the winner, instead of the time-honored tradition of allowing Don King to buy the win?

    Boy, this really is a shakeup in the industry.

    • I doubt it. With the right promotion you should be able to control who the audience wants to win. And since you've averaged it down to a mob decision, they'll pick "their guy" most of the time, regardless of the fight stats. I predict an almost identical percent of "bad" decisions to the current system.

  • Just like Hockey. Most people who are interested are already watching.

    MMA, UItimate Fighting etc. proves that people want to watch people hurt one another. Some graphics might be just the thing to liven up boxing.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Saturday March 07, 2015 @08:20AM (#49203937)
    "It's two guys that actually have strategy. They're actually thinking."

    ""Everybody has a plan until they get hit." -- Mike Tyson
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Of course the spectators are only watching for the thinking.

    • Try it. I have. Yes, there's thinking. You have a toolbox of techniques, and so does your opponent. During the fight, you're testing what in your toolbox works against them, and learning what they have that works against you, then you're trying to compensate. You're trying to deceive, making your opponent try to defend the wrong shot so the one you actually throw hits them.

      Yeah. There's thinking. It's not exactly chess, but it's far from two guys just punching each other.

      • One thing that would make me even more interested in combat sports than I am already: ban commenters from using chess analogies. (I say that as a successful amateur chess combatant)

        Nothing makes a person (in any non-chess event) look stupider than comparing things to chess as an attempt at an accessible metaphor. Chess is not an accessible metaphor; nobody who needs an accessible metaphor would even understand an actual relevant chess example. And modern chess is highly pragmatic, there are basically no por

  • Even _interesting_ sports are not highly regarded among geeks, I'm not sure how this article was even considered "stuff that matters."

    Maybe gladiators would be worth posting about, but boxing is as Neanderthal as it gets.

    • Even _interesting_ sports are not highly regarded among geeks, I'm not sure how this article was even considered "stuff that matters."

      Maybe gladiators would be worth posting about, but boxing is as Neanderthal as it gets.

      Apparently you're not the only one who thinks so. I once bought a pair of boxing gloves to spar with friends. The cardboard box had this big bold warning on the side: "WARNING: Boxing is a contact sport"

      I wish I were joking.

    • Even _interesting_ sports are not highly regarded among geeks, I'm not sure how this article was even considered "stuff that matters."

      Maybe gladiators would be worth posting about, but boxing is as Neanderthal as it gets.

      You care enough to type about it. And as someone whose DNA is upwards of 3% neanderthal, I am offended.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday March 07, 2015 @09:02AM (#49204029)
    To measure the force of each impact. At least that way, in addition to the coolness of "connected gloves," some data on brain concussions can be collected.
  • The puck glows blue when they pass it, and when they shoot the puck at the net, it glows RED. This is the future of hockey for a younger generation!

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

    Make the fights to the death. Then americans will watch it more than all the other shows combined.
    Make them death row criminals, and Pay per view, become a trillionaire overnight.

  • When the horse has a brain and the damage is like I don't think that's good. Boxing makes the horse. Know'm'sayin'?
  • Get rid of the point system. Have them keep going till someone gives up or gets KO'd. This simultaneously makes the sport more interesting and will cut back on the corruption.
    • Get rid of the point system. Have them keep going till someone gives up or gets KO'd. This simultaneously makes the sport more interesting and will cut back on the corruption.

      ...and the strategy, and the focus on fitness and stamina, and the length of careers, and all amateur boxing, and the health of boxers, and the frequency of fights, and the likelihood of boxing remaining legal and sanctioned. Boxing has never been street fighting, and will never become such.

  • Imagine how much harder these boxers will try to punch each other once they realise they can get a high score.

  • Gloves already connect with chin, jaw, chest, belly...
  • Until the repeated concussions turn their brains to mush.

    It's really tragic to see what happened to Ali.

    -jcr

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