Can you imagine a life without science or technology? Unless you are okay with the idea of living without transportation, medicine or the internet, the answer is most likely a no. Over the recent years, technology has had some advancements that have proven to be very important to our daily lives and given us access to new areas of research and knowledge. Now think about sports. You may not see the obvious connection between sports and science but it is all around us and the industry. Although the impact in sports might not be very significant in many parts of the world, it is evident that the many areas of the sports industry have changed and have transformed the way people and athletes play sports. Everything has been affected, from the TV you use to watch the games, the analytics, sports apps, heart rate monitors and training methods. There was a time when one’s skull was barely protected by anything during games, now there are helmets and head protection made of molded plastic and polycarbonates that could soften hits to the head by a lot. Technology never rests as there are always new ideas and with technology advancing every second it gives exposure to new areas we can improve.
A common question that is asked is that are today’s athletes really getting faster, better and stronger? The world of professional sports has now been producing athletes that seem to be bigger, stronger and faster than those a 100 years ago. However, it has been said that bodies haven’t changed or evolved that much but rather technological advancements are behind the extra performances seen by athletes. David Epstein, author of the book, the Sports Gene stated that Jesse Owens won the 1936 Olympics for 100m in 10.2 seconds. In 2013 Usain Bolt set the record at 9.77 seconds. At this time Jesse Owens would have been 14 feet behind. But closer inspection showed that the track that Jesse Owens ran on was made of soft wood ash where Usain Bolt ran on engineered carpet that gives more grip. The starting conditions also varied. Bringing them up to todays date, Jesse Owens would have been within a stride of Usain Bolt. Something similar happened with bikes. A cyclist beat the record for the longest distance cycled in an hour in 1996 with a more aerodynamic bike and track suit thus proving again, the gain was a specifically a result of technology and research.
To further prove that technology has helped sports, a look at how sports medicine or handling injuries shows that there is a change there. As technology was still making its way through the medical field and helping doctors and researchers understand the human body. It wasn’t common to use these methods on sport injuries. Many decades ago, it was common for athletes to be out for good after an injury, as nobody knew how to treat sport injuries. About 20 years ago, many medical discoveries made such as the goal of creating anatomically detailed diagrams of the human body led to understanding body parts even more and in the process also discovered new parts. This lead to new methods of therapy. It led to braces early on, using medicine such as cortisone to reduce inflammation. Stretching and strengthening also started to get introduced in this time using ultrasounds and other type of machines that were initially invented for research purposes. 10 years ago doctors saw a boom of sports injuries and this was a learning period once again. Being witnesses to new injuries it was back to research and using new technological methods to help heal injured tissues and bones. This included tissue regeneration and strengthening. This would not have been possible without the advancements of technology to get into the human body or learning about it.
With technology helping the medical industry it gave scientists a chance to experiment on human bodies to see how they could better them by using drugs. Seeing short term effects in human trials it quickly made its way into the sporting industry as far back as the 1930’s. The rise in athletes taking performance enhancing drugs led to the International Olympic Committee establish a Medical Commission in response to the drugs in 1967. Over the years all the sports industries began testing athletes for illegal substances. Many had been kicked out of the sport and revoked of their winning titles.
As seen, technology that helped the medical industry both helped the sporting industry and gave it hardships. Learning about human anatomy showed new ways to treat injuries and new ways to train the human body to get better performance. This helped athletes reach new levels of training and performance but further experimentation of drugs in the medical field led to an influx in performance enhancing drugs that flooded the sporting injury.
Science technology indirectly had great impacts on sports but also great direct ones. Socially sports grew to become one of the biggest topics talked about because of technology. In the early 1900’s the only way to watch a sports game was to go to a stadium. In 1920 with the introduction of the widespread radio broadcasts for things such as songs and emergency broadcasts, there was also one more use of the radio. On November 25th, 1920, the first ever football game had been broadcasted over the radio. This had great implications as it gave a new way to find out about the other than being physically there. Viewers could enjoy the game from the comfort of their own homes and gather around. Using the technology of throwing electrons at glass to make a visible image, general electric released 5 TV’s to the mass market in 1939. That very year the sports industry looked to expand to new horizons. They used video cameras to film the first ever broadcasted game over TV. It was May 17th, 1939, and there were only 400 TV’s able to watch the game. It gave the sporting industry a chance to grow once again.
With sports marketing vastly growing, an athlete, Jacky Robinson took the industry by storm. In 1947, everyone knew of him as he was the first coloured person to be playing for a sports league. His name was being passed because of the invention of the few electronics of the time such as the radio and television. He caught the eye of the younger generation and whoever used them. Digital media really helped in his success as it made him a well known athlete that everyone was talking about. There were many rallies and protests to let him play with everyone knowing the outcome right away due to situations being broadcasted on both the TV and the radio. He went on to become one of the most influential athletes of all time.
With technology constantly advancing, it brought new types of sports like auto racing. The rise of electronics and research of materials continued and it made cars even better. In formula one, one of the biggest sports, auto manufactures took this opportunity to use this sport as a testing ground for new technologies that were developed. It made both road cars faster, safer and more capable than ever. This trend continues today as they are pushed towards for efficient cars and stronger cars for safety.
As sports were becoming more widespread to watch them at other venues and not the actual arena, an invention that would develop into something very important in games was a version of instant replay. Instant replay has sparked about as much controversy as it has stopped since the feature was introduced but it’s hard to imagine watching games without it today. It started in 1955 when a Toronto based producer, George Retzlaff who was employed for Hockey Night in Canada created a wet- film of a goal during the season. Although his technique didn’t catch on, his idea definitely did. Experiments of video tape replay continued at the 1960 Olympics until its debut on December 7th, 1963 during a football game. This machine was 1200 pounds and carried to the stadium. It brought major controversy as many complained that this was not live TV. With in stadium fans the priority, leagues started to implement the use of replay cameras and in April 1977 helped stopped an incorrect call from the umpires.
As televisions were now in many people’s homes by the 1970’s there was a TV network that declared that they would broadcast nothing but sports. Thus the birth of ESPN took place. This would not have been possible without the invention of radios or TV’s. It made sports a social gathering. It was able to be watched from anywhere with the TV and that later changed to anywhere with the invention of the internet and the DVR. Technology gave access to the sports industry to everyone. Today there are many ways to interact with this industry with apps that let you create fantasy leagues and watch races and player statistics. This also lead to the widespread of e-sports. People would watch competition that were facilitated by video games. The internet, mobile computing and personal computing really bridged the gap left over by TV media as you could not carry a TV everywhere.
New methods of research with the assistance of computers brought new technology everywhere, including sports. It brought new materials for clothes, better running shoes, lighter bikes and more advanced cars for racing and road use. It also brought new ways to train by keeping track at vitals during activities.
While talking about sports, the main question talent. Do you have it, if so what sport should you play. Research also helped study athletes to look at genes and help put you in a sport based on genes while focusing to improve performance and health and safety of the athletes. After the first step of finding out what’s best for a person’s body, you receive a personal diet plan. As diet is a very important part of overall performance and everyone’s body is different.
As cameras have helped provide live TV to others not at the main venue. Other camera technology that has really helped in training and predicting ball movement is Hawk-Eye technology. In use since 2006, it is much more accurate than a judge’s eye. By monitoring the exact movement of the playing field they are able to make judgements without much criticism as this method is more accurate.
In recent years, technology has had a massive impact on every aspect of our society. With the world advancing so quickly and the population able to get their hands on information so quickly from almost anywhere, it has let people communicate with each other more effectively. It has impacted everything from healthcare, education, businesses and sports. It might not be apparent but the introduction of technology in sports has had a very big impact. As technologies main goal is to make thing sand processes easier, it has done exactly that. The sport industry has seen a massive increase in revenue and attention. It has also changed the industry in other ways as well.
Sports coverage is larger than ever. Thanks to the invention of the radio and TV which helped kick off the whole idea of digital media and social media. You can watch games anywhere, on the go, on TV channels at bars or other social gatherings. Everything is live or you could record it for later. It used to be that events wold have to be heard form the select few that actually watched or saw the game. The social media connection between fans and players has also increased. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have provided access for them to connect. Talking and watching sports has very much grown to be a social gathering activity.
In respect to athlete’s technology has created a new breed. You can now be put into a sport where your genes would shine. Learning about genes and the human body have helped scientists do that while of course pushing the human body even further and take to precautions.
Lastly the equipment and experience of sports has also changed. Learning about the human body let scientists create tailored equipment such as gloves and running shoes with more advanced materials. New types of bikes were made with the goal in mind being to go faster while being more efficient. All of this was possible while giving athletes and teams a chance to better their skill. They were able to analyze their movements to make small adjustments to get that extra bit.
Technology has brought us to this point but what will happen in the future, lets say 10 years from now. As far as technology goes, it’s advancing pretty quickly letting us peer even deeper into the human body of athletes. This will create even safer and efficient equipment all while finding new treatments for injuries such as stem cell therapy which will help alleviate injuries that were previously not possible to repair.
Technology holds a very bright future in sports as it could bring new technologies and new methods to let more people interact with the industry.