Professional sports in the US is a billion dollar industry, so it's no surprise that teams would do anything to gain an edge. Enter one HUGE advantage: a futuristic, luxury plane designed to help athletes offset the negative effects of playing on the road.
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Why spend millions on players and practice facilities, and then neglect travel -- especially when teams play away games for half the season? That's the question TEAGUE, a Seattle-based design firm, and Nike are asking. And their answer is the Athlete’s Plane, a concept airliner designed to improve athletes' performance.
According to TEAGUE Creative Director, Philipp Steiner, “When professional athletes travel across multiple time zones, their team is statistically more likely to lose -- the Athlete’s Plane essentially levels the playing field”. Select statistics apparently back Steiner up; according to a 2008 study in Scientific American, MLB teams playing on the road lose 60% of their games.
Nike and TEAGUE tapped sleep specialists, coaches, team doctors, and the athletes themselves in an effort to determine what exactly a pro athlete's travel needs were. They focused on four things: recovery, circulation, sleep, and thinking. Or, more specifically, seats for passengers up to seven feet tall that allow each leg to be elevated individually (!!).
There's also in-flight biometric testing and rooms for massages, intravenous infusions, electro-stimulation, and other medical treatment, as well as areas to watch game footage and a “self-serve nutrition zone” for specialized meals.
To optimize athletic performance even further, special attention was paid to noise, light, climate control, and general layout.
Apparently, even the toilets are high-tech, analyzing the players' urine to determine whether they're in need of a Gatorade Fierce Fruit Punch.
For now, the plane is nothing more than a pipe dream, but as long as teams are willing to shell out $85 million for guys like Brian McCann, it's only a matter of time before this Nike jet becomes a reality.
Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle.