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Nicky Hosamane
PD 1
03/03/2013
Sports Technology: Possibly the Biggest Cheat
Technology has increased the drama in the realm of sports. The impact of technology
varies greatly by affecting athletic performance, enhancing a fan’s viewing experience,
influencing referees decisions, and assisting practice and training. The impact these innovations
have had on sports make people question whether or not the role that technology plays is a too
large. Opinions have risen that some technologies need to be banned in order to make sports
more fair and safe. The reasoning taken account is based on the principles of safety, equal
opportunity, and the unfair advantages that some of these technologies give to
athletes. Numerous records have fallen recently in sports due to the advantages some athletes
possess. These technologies make it unfair for older athletes holding records and for present day
athletes who cannot afford expensive items. The sports technology, ranging from clothing and
footwear to equipment that is used during practice or games, has become very prominent in
modern sports. The influence of these innovations was great, which calls the legitimacy of the
sport into question of whether or not equipment should be banned. It does this by calling into
question whether it is the athlete or the technology that is successful. A variety of technologies
are permitted in sports, while others are banned. In order to make gameplay fair, the technologies
should be allowed for all athletes-given they know how to use it and the potential side effects the
technology may have, so they will be against using them, and the sport should ensure that
innovations are not limited to certain competitors.
Technology continues to have a growing impact in sports. New technologies are
constantly introduced to redefine a sport and to influence the way the sport is played.
Technology is a broad spectrum in the realm of sports ranging from clothing and footwear to
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equipment that players and coaches’ use and all of these are continuously improving. The wide
range of technologies explains the impact that it haves in sports as any little or big change can
prove to be significant. The use of the technology is primarily to enhance player performance,
whether it is in practice or game and new innovations are introduced to keep up with the changes
in the sport, such as redesigning helmet technology in football to better protect athletes due to
on-field dangers of big hits and concussions. Athletes compete to find the best technology to gain
an edge over the opponent and this process continues as new items are created and presented.
The modernization of technology is always occurring because the sport is always changing and
manufactures wish to keep up with the competition and modernize their products. For example,
in the Olympics, which only occur every four years, the sport will change due to the time span of
which athletes do not compete. The technology used in these sports need to change due to
possible rules changes and needs of the athletes. The player performance has greatly benefited
due to the improvements made in technology as athletes have broken records and won awards
due to the increased help that technology provides. Steve Haake states in his article that Olympic
technology is steadily increasing as it keeps improving the sport and results in better player
performance in which “A performance improvement index was developed to allow comparison
between athletes and between sports over time. The performance improvement index for the 100m sprint between 1896 and 2008 was 24%, with 4% being attributed to tighter, aerodynamic
clothing. While new vaulting pole designs increased the performance improvement index from
59 to 86% during the twentieth century (Haake).” The creation of new technologies has also
paved the way for new activities to become competitive sports in the Olympics such as the
possible introduction of rugby and golf for the next games. Finally, the future of technology
looks to be bright as the innovations are rapidly improving and this has resulted in allowing a
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new demographic group to compete, the disabled. Technological advancements have given
disabled competitors a chance to play in the games and even play alongside normal athletes, like
in the case of Oscar Pistorius who competes in track events with a prosthetic running blade and
competes against normal athletes. These innovations have given opportunities to the less
fortunate to compete and the future of sports technology continues to grow. The impact of
technology is so great that all athletes should have equal opportunity to embrace its benefits and
enhance their own performance, but with the growing impact of technology it has resulted in
making the sport easier.
Sports have changed dramatically alongside technology over the years. The rapid
advancements made to technology have resulted in a change to the sport. The growing
enhancement of technology has made athletes more dependent on technology as it out with
performance, training, and recovery. As technology gets better, the sport changes, but sports can
only change so much. The speedy enhancements of technology have made sports easier for
athletes in the present compared to past athletes and have ultimately resulted in making
competition and sports easier. Sports have countered the technological growth by banning
numerous materials from the sports in order to keep the game fair. Equipment such as hi-tech
swimsuits, heavy steel hockey sticks, aluminum bats and a variety of other technologies have
been banned for the reasons of player safety and the advantage that these innovations possess.
Most recently was the banning of a shoe from the NBA, the National Basketball Association,
because these shoes allowed players to jump higher and have more fluid and swift movements.
Due to the advantageous result that the shoes will create for players to score points it heavily
favors the offensive side so in order to keep the game fair the shoes were banned (Deleon). If
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technologies heavily favor one side of the sport such as defense or offense the sport will consider
banning it, for example, the aluminum bats which allowed baseball players to hit the balls harder
resulting in a greater percentage of home runs. The unfair advantage that technology gives to the
modern generation is also considered to be unfair for previous generations of athletes that played
the sport. More records are being broken now than ever as the sport gets easier for athletes due to
the competition. Hard fought records become more manageable as the technology takes the load
and eases up the competition. The amount of records being broken is unfair to older athletes as
the rate of broken records is increasing rapidly in which in the Olympics 25 records have fallen
alone in just swimming due to the new high powered swim suits, which were recently banned
due to the realization that it was making swimming an easier task (Smith). Technology continues
to grow in the realm of sports as the dependency towards them from athletes continues to grow.
Athletes are becoming very reliant towards technology for their success as it helps out with their
training and performance in the game and enhance both of them. Some of the materials that are
in use have become illegal but are still used in the sport due to its benefit and the dependency
already created through previous use. Technologies such as performance enhancing drugs allow
the player to achieve more on the field and due to their success the athletes wish to continue
using them despite any side effects. The use of technologies, illegal or not, puts the safety of
players in jeopardy as the risks of injury grow as sports become more faster paced so in order to
keep up with the competition illegal drugs or technologies must be used that have harmful side
effects.
The safety of athletes has been put into jeopardy with the production and use of new
technologies. Performance enhancement drugs are reoccurring problems in all sports. “In the
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United States, an estimated 1 to 3 million people have used anabolic steroids. Many of these are
young adults. An estimated 4% to 12% of US high school boys and up to 3.3% of high school
girls have used anabolic steroids” ("Technology in Sports."). Many athletes use these drugs
based on the assumption that their performance level will increase and that the drugs will be a
benefit during the game. The drugs do provide an advantage, but there is potential for harmful
side effects. For that reason, the drugs are banned from sports as they harm the player and also
give an unfair advantage to the athletes over others who do not wish to use the drugs. There are
many measures set in place to work against athletes taking the drugs such as severe punishments
if caught and drug tests that each player must take. Healthy replacements for drugs such as
steroids are also in production like the cooling glove. The cooling glove is a safe replacement
because it performs the safe task as enhancement drugs by cooling down the hand which results
in making the hand stronger (Unger). These innovations have allowed athletes to sway away
from the drugs and go to safer methods that are not banned because all athletes have equal
opportunity to use them with no harmful side effects present. People argue that the drugs should
be allowed if the risks are apparent to the athletes, in which they will be discouraged to use them.
But the issue remains of whether some athletes accept the side effects and the advantage while
others are against it. Sports, however, are completely against the use of drugs and go to extreme
measures to ensure that athletes do not use them. Doping, or the use of these drugs, is considered
a serious issue with severe consequences that will occur if caught that could potentially mean jail
time or suspension from the sport (Murray). Although some technologies such as performance
enhancement drugs pose threats to athletes and are therefore banned, other innovations are
revolutionizing the sport and making the game safer to play. New helmet technology is contact
sports like football or rugby have allowed for the better protection of the players as the helmets
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attempt to absorb the contact and give minimal hits to the head area. Concussions constantly
occur in pro football and the new helmet technology and progress is working towards limiting
these injuries and protects the players (Cyphers). These new innovations in sports have had both
positive and negative impacts as the sports are trying to limit the influence of the negative effect
and maximize the positive. The progress in technology to help athlete performance is greatly
beneficial, but only some athletes have the opportunity to use them, further influencing the
decisions to ban equipment due to unequal opportunity.
As technologies in sports become more and more profitable due to its increased
usefulness, the price of these innovations also rises. The best technologies are only available to
the rich athletes and its gives them an unfair advantage to the small time competitors. The most
expensive technology is usually considered the best and the richest athletes only have access to
them. This access will allow the richer athletes to have the advantage over anybody that cannot
afford it. This results in unfair competition and obstruction of the fairness in the sport. “For
example, because of cost, changes brought about in sport through the application of technology
tend to be available first to elite level athletes and teams. By definition, elite level athletes and
sports are exclusive and thus omit the broader base of participants further down the sports
hierarchy” (Hjertberg). The competition becomes a lot easier for higher end athletes and the
lower end athletes do not have an equal opportunity to success compared to the people who can
buy the more expensive technologies whether it be equipment, in-game tools etc… The
economic status of all athletes, especially during the Olympics, are all different so if the big end
athletes can practice with better equipment and be more well prepared they already have an
advantage. Due to this many items banned due to unfair opportunities that competitors have at
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getting it (Murray). Olympic swim technology for example was recently banned since they were
high tech swims suits that allowed for easier swimming and slicing through the water. These
suits were very expensive and athletes like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lockte have access while
the less known athletes could not use them due to their price. The unequal opportunity that these
technologies present to the sports field result it being banned or labeled as unfair so athletes will
be discouraged to using them so that the competition remains fair and no one player will have an
advantage over another due to economic status.
In conclusion, the impact of technology will continue to increase steadily. New
technologies are introduced, tested, and created daily for players, coaches, and fans. The
dramatic that these innovations have in sports calls into question the legitimacy of the athletes
and sports themselves as critics question whether or not sports are skill based or technology
based. These issues have resulted in the banning of various equipment and drugs, which are also
considered sports technologies. Safety, equal opportunity, and unfair advantages that these
technologies possess are the most common reasons for the introduction of new rules to ban these
innovations. Safety brings up the issue of performance enhancing drugs, which have negative
effects on players, so they are banned to protect the athletes. Equal opportunity involves prices of
the equipment because low end competitors cannot afford the high class material. Athletes have
also benefited from the use of technology as their play has improved and the performance
significantly better. Technologies should not be banned from sports if the athletes are
informed of the potential risks and rewards of them before putting them in use. Technologies
should be allowed to all athletes as it will make the sport fairer if all athletes have equal access to
them and are aware of potential problems, as well as rewards, to the technology.
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Page 1.
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