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AI becomes wingman to athletes

Under Armour is using AI to empower team sports athletes with a dynamic tool and speech to inspire mind, body and spirit.

For team sport athletes, the team is everything. Their greatest incentive is not letting their teammates down as they work together as a collective force to elevate one another in the pursuit of success.

 It means that, in the realm of team sports, the power of individual talent is nurtured to its fullest only when combined into the spirit of a unified team. Like the threads of a tapestry, each athlete’s unique abilities and strengths are interwoven, creating a bond that transcends individual expertise. In this tapestry, the reliance on one another isn’t just a choice; it’s the essence of success.

Under Armour says it is its mission “to support all athletes in their journey to compete through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation and revolutionary tech and apparel”. Now, it has launched a campaign to Protect This House, taking to artificial intelligence (AI) to make athletes better.

Under Armour has utilised the power of AI to empower team sports athletes to Protect This House, presenting them with “a dynamic tool that not only strengthens their athleticism but also inspires their mind, body and spirit”. 

UA will use AI to scan and analyse millions of keywords and thousands of impactful speeches to create a perfectly balanced motivational team talk. After analysing the narratives, tone and word construction of the greatest speeches in history, UA says, it “will create a team talk that is scientifically proven to be the most motivational and moving team talk of all time”, detailing the journey of athletes from the training ground to the pitch.

“Forget overly-polished TED Talks and unrelatable speakers, this team talk is going to be raw, emotional and full of hard-hitting real-life moments,” says UA. “But why stop there when we can take it one step further?”

To bring the speech to life, Under Armour partnered with acclaimed actor, artist, producer and director Ashley Walters. An icon of British television and youth culture, he takes centre stage as “AI and machine” is so fused. The result is “The Ultimate Team Talk”, an inspirational speech harnessing the best possible language, sentence structure, cadence, and energy, designed to motivate team sport athletes ahead of any competition.

Channelling his grit and determination from his inner-city upbringing, Ashley’s performance is set against the backdrop of a gritty sporting environment that evokes the spirit of the Protect This House campaign.

‘We stand as one’

The heart of the production is Ashley’s powerful speech, delivered with raw authenticity that resonates deeply with the team sports athlete audience. The AI-generated audio seamlessly weaves through footage of intense matches and dedicated training sessions by team sport athletes, capturing the essence of their commitment.  

The speech leverages the power of AI and the latest large language model (LLM, the basis of generative AI chatbots) technologies, input with insights directly from UA athletes such as Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid), Laura Freigang (Eintracht Frankfurt), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Jayde Riviere (Manchester United), and Reuell Walters (Arsenal).

Each athlete shared in detail what motivates them, which mindset they need to be in to compete at the highest level, and which speeches from their coaches or other mentors impacted them the most. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool, 24, Defender: The mental aspect of the game is just as, if not more important, than the physical aspect. Our comeback win against Barcelona is the perfect example of that. I will never forget the team talk before that match, every single one of us believed it was possible. This ‘Ultimate Team Talk’ will hopefully give young players that same feeling.”

The Protect This House campaign starts on 31 August. 

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