Normally when one says technology, people instantly associate it with machines and other tangible products. Today in our world, it’s fascinating to see the shift growing toward the software side of it — probably because we seem to have all hardware already figured out! Over the years it’s amazing how technology aided sports development. Not only did it help making athletes wiser, faster, and stronger, it also pushed the trend toward creating a healthier world.
Technology significantly helps with improving performance. Athletes can now assess themselves with much improved science and equipment. With these kinds of tools available, they can understand their bodies better in such a way that it would be easier to come up with efficient methods toward becoming the best athlete. For example, one can know how to gain muscle easier, lose weight faster, and recover smarter. Lifting weights has also become more high-tech. Before, it was just all about going heavier and heavier with the same equipment—barbells and dumbbells. Today we see machines that use air pressure instead of heavy plates, we have anti-gravity treadmills and we even have the idea of integrating parachutes in training! With science and technology, athletes have gone through tremendous amounts of apparel that would aid them in their performance. There was a time when swimmers just wore trunks with the basic thought that less clothes mean less drag. Although over time, authorities were able to develop a suit that has more coverage that doesn’t necessary slow down the athletes. Of course a more popular example are the development of shoes in the sports world. Imagine how about 40 years ago, professional basketball players wore Converses to their games! And now we have a wide variety of shoes that would be best fit for every sports event, as a pair of cleats is to football, soccer, track and field or gum soles for futsal, badminton or volleyball.
In this context, technology also helps everyday people in their athletic performance. Before there were just cool waterproof watches that you could use for exercise but now it is so incredible how companies have produced smart watches catered to the masses. Not only can it track one’s location, but now it can monitor heart rate, strain/sleep progress and it can even give you a recovery analysis on top of just showing what time of the day it is!
Game quality has also changed due to technology. In general, we can have more accurate measurements of speed and distance. In track and field, we can now definitely see who wins the race by looking at a more precise time as well as having the luxury of a high-definition slow-motion replay. For tennis and volleyball, the challenge system has been developed over time to see whether the balls land inside or outside the court. In improving replay systems, there has been a recent innovation of having a 4D view of the court to determine whether the referee’s call was valid or not. With these, not only does it make sports more competitive, but it also enhances the fan experience.
On that note, technology also improves the audiences’ experience in a number of ways. There was a case study that I read recently wherein a stadium owner explicitly made sure that there was no network coverage nor wifi connection in his stadium. This idea revolved around his belief that fans should be focused on watching the game and should have minimal distraction. Later on he learned the hard way— his idea led to depleting ticket sales. Today, one can attest to the fact that being online has been one of the top priorities to an individual. Nowadays, not only do we have network coverage in huge arenas, but also we have strong and fast Internet available! In relation to that, one development that we usually take for granted is how tickets can now be bought online. Now you can have the luxury of staying on your bed and purchase a ticket without going through the hassle of falling in line outdoors and waiting for a long time just to get tickets. It is also of note how our jumbotrons have evolved. Before it was simply an avenue to show the scores, time-outs and fouls of a team, but now we have sophisticated screens that basically serve at a huge TV for the same crowd watching the game live. Through this piece of innovation, companies can market their products; games can show slow-mo replays and close-ups for people to see.
I can’t wait to see how sports will look like in the future. Early this year, there was news about how holograms could be possible and can be utilized in making multiple features of the same events in different places! It was so cool to even imagine how say, the Olympics are held in Paris and can be projected in a Los Angeles stadium at the same time it happens! Another thing to consider is the rise of e-sports! Today it’s becoming more popular and some people consider it as a sport. But is it really a sport?