How technology is transforming the world of sports.
Not everyone in the world is a sports fanatic, but the summer season usually brings something everyone can enjoy. The armchair fan can take their pick from the US Open, Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix or the Tour de France, to name but a few of the summer’s highlights. And warmer weather tempts others to go out for a run, a cycle ride, or a game of softball in the park with friends.
What’s interesting is how human endeavor – on the small or superhuman scale – is increasing reliance on machines. Technology is increasingly being used to monitor sporting progress, determine results, resolve conflicts, track training.
Consider the greater impact of technology on professional sport. Athletes today have their health monitored at every stage of their training, their nutrition finely balanced and their kit specially designed to maximize performance. On the pitch, their movements will be recorded and analyzed to establish where the smallest of changes could make a big difference. Mountains of data are collected over months and years of practice, building up a veritable arsenal of data which can be transformed into information to support sporting success.
And of course, the sporting terrain is also now mapped and monitored, with technology determining the foul ball or step out of bounds, the winner in a photo finish, the speed of a ball, whether or not a player is offside. It’s part and parcel of what we expect today from the professional game, and the ‘technology delay’ – when the pitchside humans wait to see if technology will endorse their own sporting judgment – is an increasingly common part of everyday sporting life.
And what about the non-professional? Even enthusiastic amateurs today can choose training programs in virtual clubs for their chosen sport, monitoring their progress via their smartphone and an increasing array of clever add-ons. They can manage their own nutrition, monitor their heartbeat, and time their trials, and track their performance instantly against others online. And when they are done, they can settle down and catch up on their sporting idol’s latest performance on the device of their choosing, on demand, wherever they may be.
There is always a thought in the back of the true sport lover’s mind, that perhaps technology can distract from the sporting performance itself. There’s something about the anticipation and anguish of watching a major event live which disappears in the replay; and the overlay of schematics and tracks while informative, can also be distracting. But the fact is, sport is big business. And technology is increasingly being used to fine tune performances, and share success on an even broader scale.
Many already talk about athletes as finely tuned machines – perhaps it’s only a matter of time before the machines take over the armchair as well? Or perhaps they already have?