As someone who has attended numerous sporting events in the USA, Canada and Japan, the fan experience has greatly changed over time with technological improvements. When I first attended Portland Trail Blazers basketball games in the 1980s, we did not even have replay boards in the arenas. Only a scoreboard with a message board (all on sides). Eventually, the team added player statistic boards for points, assists, fouls and rebounds. Later the scoreboard added a TV screen with the ability to show replays. Now, the statistic boards are incredibly detailed for team stats versus player stats, massive video screens for replays and animations, ribbon boards on the second and third levels. In all it is just a different experience than when I was younger.
This weekend, I was talking with a Japanese friend about their basketball league, the B League, which merged two separate professional leagues. For the opening games in September of the merged league, the league played two games in the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo, the same venue that the FIVB uses for many matches in Japan. I found a video of the opening game and it just blew my mind. And I think it will change the game of volleyball for the better.
Here is a video of what I saw, an LED court with the ability to project computer graphics on the court.
For volleyball, of course it can be used in pre-match events. However, during a match, you could put a brick wall up for the block on your side of the net or an Ace card behind the service line.
The back part of the court on a 3-meter attack could light up in team colors. If a volleyball ball was hit out without being touched, the outside of the court could turn red.
Currently we have the challenge system using Hawkeye, in which we rely on the replay board in the arena to show where the ball landed. Potentially, you could show on the court where the ball landed with the computer graphics tied in.
The sport would have to limit what type of graphics could be used. We use kills as a term, but you can’t use a gun to shot at people for killing the ball, etc. A flat volleyball on the court could work instead. Would player images be allowed on the court during a match? In pre-game, yes, but I don’t think so during the match.
The greatest challenge for the LED court is durability. For the basketball games it was only used for two games. With FIVB tournaments, like the World Championships or World Cup, the court is used for three matches in one day and for up to 3 consecutive days. If it was used for only the opening match or the Final, I think that it would be great to see on television and in the arena.
Maybe we will see this in 2018 at the Women’s World Championships in Japan?