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Sports Are Changing Through Technology

Society changes in direct and rapid response to the evolution of technology in general and the internet in particular. We launch an occasional series of blog articles about health, education, employment, transport, entertainment, defence, sport, finance and policing, all areas under exponential change pressure through technology.

Sports and Technology

In common with many other sectors of life, the interesting story is the technology that affects sport as much as the actual field itself. Developments in physical techniques, news speeds, stamina, endurance and training are all viewed nowadays through the filter of what the techno angle?

Major sports events with potential global events (this year like Olympics and Euro 12) will be noticeable for 3D screens, two or more screens experienced simultaneously, and growth of live streaming of events. Problems with ticketing are usually technology-related.

The use of the internet and social media for results, commentary and social inclusion, the franchises of mainstream sports on TV, the sponsorship/commercialisation of sports and the virtual sports stadia of the future look set to dominate the news and people’s thoughts as much as actual races.

Technology on Track and Field

New gadgetry to help referees in football, umpires in tennis like cameras on lines, instant replays are now reaching sophisticated levels. The debate about whether soccer, rugby and cricket will move to virtual referees is live. Swimming is almost totally automated judging now.

Whether it can extend to boxing and wrestling, track and field, water and sea events may only be a matter of time rather than a matter of choice a few years from now.

The prospect of ‘smart balls’ loaded with technology to make line and other decisions less controversial and more accurate is being tried. Hawkeye technology following the trajectory of a ball is transforming the player and audience experience, particularly in golf where a small ball travels long distances.

The term ‘sports science’ has long replaced other looser terms for what are now computer operated systems in foods, liquids, diets, nutrition, fitness and medications for sports people.

Equipment

Another revolution is in the area of sports equipment technology which has continuously pushed the boundaries of quicker, smoother, sleeker, lighter, more accurate and more aero-dynamic. The appliance to technology in mountain biking, roller skating, roller boarding, snow boarding, skiing are self evident.

Even the design and manufacture of ever more environmentally sensitive, sports efficient gadgets and tools in new and innovative materials is now heavily dependent on computers and technology.

The enhancement of accommodation and presentation facilities means sports moves closer to the totality of entertainment. There is somewhat ironic tension between facilities that technology makes last longer and the faster obsolescence that technology brings.

There is a trickle down effect from the big super, professional sports activities to the millions of amateur, Sunday, recreational sports people. But the fact remains, that most new developments are beyond reach of most people until developments reach the mass production phase.

That’s the point about competition, isn’t it? In the endless quest for personal, regional and national glory, sports retailing and sports fitness drives technology, and vice versa. The beneficial circle.

Photo: Rae Slater