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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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 Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 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. Nicky Hosamane PD 1 03/03/2013 Page 1. Works Cited Cyphers, Steve. "‘Health of the Game’ Part 2: Helmet research turning heads at Va. Tech." NFL Evolution. NFL Enterprises, 14 Nov. 2012. 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