According to design consultant company TEAGUE, multiple studies suggest that "home-field advantage" is actually due more to the negative effects of traveling than from the psychological impact of home team fans jeering and booing.
Although most professional athletic teams fly on private jets, being that high in the air and traveling at such fast speeds in a pressurized cabin can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and decreased circulation. In 2002, German researchers found that even motor functioning is impaired by air travel, and the effects linger throughout the following day or so.
After gathering insights from various experts, coaches, trainers, sleep specialists and athletes, Nike worked with TEAGUE to design a specialized airplane interior to cater to the needs of traveling athletes. Factors like "foot traffic, noise and light disturbances, climate control, privacy, and social habits" were all taken into consideration.
The design concept focuses on innovation in the following four areas:
- Recovery: "equalizing the negative effects of air travel on the mind and body, and bringing the training room to 40,000 feet through in-flight biometrics and analysis to accelerate injury diagnosis and treatment."
- Circulation: "fostering natural mobility and building in equipment that ensures optimal circulation and promotes healing."
- Sleep: "designing ideal sleeping conditions for individuals and sleep strategies for entire teams to maximize physical readiness."
- Thinking: "creating spaces for key mental activities, especially film study—enabling in-transit film review both before and after games."
The Nike X TEAGUE plane would provide biometrics testing in-flight, as well as massage, cold and warm contrast treatment, intravenous infusion, and electro-stimulation. Ice and compression sleeves can be plugged directly into the airplane's systems, and the seats allow for individual leg elevation.
Performance information (via wearable gear and seat back monitors) and insights into physiological states are available as soon as athletes set foot on the plane. And of course, a "nutrition zone" ensures that the athletes receive adequate and nutritious snacks and meals to promote proper recovery and sustain their energy levels.
These designs are still in the concept stage, but considering how much money is spent on sports—from athletes' salaries to training complexes—it's not a huge stretch to imagine them being constructed in a few years.
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