Sports technology is an extremely prominent aspect right now and is advancing quickly but at the same time is overlooked as to how much there really is in sports technology and how important it can be. The technology advances the game to a much higher level and is improving the sports world. The technology is helping athlete’s performance improve and get closer to perfection and it’s helping people have a better understanding for the game. Another aspect that the technology is improving is the safety of the game in relation to the recovery process and all the technological medical advancements being made. There are computerized systems that are making injuries more preventable and making the younger generation more aware of how to prevent different injuries. There are several different forms of this technology, it ranges from a system like VAR which is an instant replay system used in soccer games to something called a push band which is used to have a more efficient way of training for athletes and then also to wearables which help detect different movements made by someone. While there are several advantages that this technology brings to sports, there are also some disadvantages and some people are against certain aspects of the technology being used within the game. Overall, sports technology is creating a conversation and is finding a way to advance the game and the athletic performance by athletes.
One of the biggest controversies in sports right now is the element of instant replay. Technology started to advance quickly and eventually made its way into the world of sports. Many sports, like basketball, football, and baseball, have had forms of instant replay for a little while now but recently soccer has started to use one of the newer forms of instant replay. One of the most recent forms of instant replay is VAR which stands for virtual assisted referee. This aspect of the game is currently taking on soccer and, though it is fairly new, has been a game changer for the sport. The original purpose for VAR was to improve the refereeing and to have, in particular, more accurate calls with shots on the goal and to also be able to go back and look at missed penalties. Before going into the advantages and disadvantages about the technology of VAR, the question remains what exactly is VAR? According to Melissa Campos, VAR technology is a form of instant replay that allows referees to look at each play, but the difference is that the plays are looked at closely in real-time. Campos also emphasizes that each VAR team contains 4 FIFA referees. One is assigned the video assistant referee and the other three are assistant video referees. As a whole the VAR team works in a booth in which they have access to 33 broadcast cameras that they can use slow motion, super slow motion, and offside cameras. Campos emphasizes that VAR has definitely improved the accuracy of calls and that teams have actually been committing less fouls and more goals have been given. But with that being said, there are still some negatives and some improvements still need to be made. A concern with the use of VAR is the consistency of it. Campos says “…the problem with this new technology right now is that it’s very inconsistent. Too much is still left to the discretion of the referee on the field, even though the officials in the VAR booth have the best view of the game” (Campos) . If VAR is going to be used then we have to find happy-medium of using this technology to help advance the game. One of the main concerns with the use of this technology is that it could disrupt the flow of a game. But here is a situation that Jerrad Peters, a newspaper and web columnist and published author who is a creative content generator at a Canadian University, writes about which shows how the flow of the game was not interrupted too much. There was a match being played in the Dutch Cup between Ajax and Willem ll Tilburg. Midfielder Anouar Kali received a yellow card which was later turned into a red card. In order to eventually receive this red card, adjustments had to be made. These adjustments were made by referee Pol Van Boekel, who was placed in a van that contained six screens and headset that he wore. He watched the play and quickly established his decision and communicated that to the on-field referee. This whole process didn’t hold up the game for too long and was actually done quite efficiently through the use of VAR. According to Jerrad Peters, he wrote in an article that “Given the speed and precision of the technology available, video replay has potential to improve the flow of games rather than stifle it, as detractors have unsoundly claimed” (Peters). There may be situations where the replay takes longer than others but overall there is not much difference in disrupting the flow of the game if comparing it to when the on-field refs come together to try to make a decision without the instant replay as well.
Another use of technology that comes to mind that has been used to help athletes improve their training and performance is the PUSH system. Recently, the PUSH system has found its way into training for athletes and coaches to use for their teams. According to the PUSH website “The PUSH empowers you to objectively track, assess, and validate athlete performance in the gym or with remote training” (PUSH). The PUSH website, www.trainwithpush.com, mentions how the system starts with the band and this band can be attached to the bar or attached to your body and it will measure velocity and power for over 400 different exercises. PUSH specifically says “The test can inform future training and recovery decisions as well as show athlete progress” (PUSH). The second part of the system is the PUSH app. The app allows athletes to track workout data as they are working out and it calculates the info as you go. Then the third part of this system is the portal. “The desktop completes that PUSH’s training system. Portal empowers you to dig into the data, tweak training plans and monitor athlete development” (PUSH). This computerized system is used throughout several of the world’s sports organizations including professional teams and division 1, 2, and 3 programs as well. This system is a big jump in terms of technology for the world of training in sports. It creates a much more efficient way to track, calculate, and evaluate different exercises and workouts.
A newer technology type system that has come out is injury-detecting sensors. These are used to help detect injuries early on so they can be taken care of before they get any worse. One main concern in the sports setting that has become extremely scary and prominent among athletes are head injuries. Which is where early brain trauma detection comes into the conversation. According to Appcessories, there is a system that has been developed that allows medics to detect brain trauma on the spot, right away. This is referred to as the VEPS sensor system and this is “a helmet-like device that can be used to detect changes in the patient’s brain, which could signal brain injury” (Max). This helps allow for the patient to receive quicker treatment and could help prevent the worse effects that come along with brain trauma. Although the one issue with this is, Appcessories mentions, that getting these sensors would require the league officials to accept them. But the rules set in play are strict at times and would prevent players from using these sensors in official games. Head injuries are way too risky to mess with and with this type of technology making its way into sports, we should take full advantage of the capabilities that these technological advancements can do for the athletes.
Medical advancements in sports technology are a huge discussion in terms of what is being done to help protect athletes in the best way possible. A main aspect of this technology are wearables that contain some type of sensor that detects movement in the human body. According to Gobinath Aroganam, A PhD Design student at Brunel who completed his major projects in topics relating to the sports industry and is currently studying wearable technology for football players, the main part of wearable technology is the microcontroller which, he says, is viewed as a mini computer. It is said specifically that “It is used desirably in wearable technology because of its simplicity to program, reprogram, cost, size, compatibility with other sensors, and the ability to control complex outputs, such as graphical displays.” (Aroganam 5). With the microcontroller being so effective and convenient as part of wearable technology it will be a big part of using it in the sports industry. Another common sensor in wearable is the accelerometer. According to Aroganam, again, the accelerometer can measure differently depending on the user that it is programmed to. It can measure the speed at which a user is running and can also measure sleep patterns which could potentially be associated with seizures. Aroganam says “These two examples show that industries such as sport and medical benefit from an accelerometer-based wearable due to its capability in producing a diverse range of meaningful data” (Aroganam 6). The wearable technology can be used in a variety of ways like tracking performance but one of the most important ways for them to be used is to use it for injury tracking. One example as to where this type of tracking is done is in football. Sensors are put into the helmets so they can measure where a head injury stands. Because of the aggressiveness of the sport this type of technology is needed so the force of the hit can be seen on how it affected the head. It is said that “This measurement can give an idea of how much energy is being felt on the inside of the dampening material” (17). Wearables are becoming much more important each day to help prevent injuries. Data from the National Health Service UK “shows sports injuries patients in 2012 who were admitted to the Accident and Emergency Department. A higher number of attendances in sports injuries were 10-19 year old males” (Aroganam18). They would be considered youths and it then goes on to show that “The next highest attendees were 20-29 year olds”. This data goes on to show that wearables would be very useful for the younger generation to use to help prevent injuries as best they can.
Another aspect of technology that is advancing in high contact sports is detecting brain injury. There has been recent research on CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is diagnosed at an autopsy. “… similar symptoms may occur in people without repeated head injuries, researchers, including those at Johns Hopkins Medicine, have been developing methods to better visualize tissue damage in the living brain to demonstrate better cause and effect” (Brain). With this research that is being done, they are finding options that are allowing players in contact sports like football to have their brain monitored which is extremely important. Jennifer Coughlin, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins says “We can measure TSPO, a PET biomarker of brain injury, in these younger players, and we can now begin to follow it over time to see if the brain is repairing itself or not” (Brain). This is extremely important as we continue to move further into the future with sports. If we are able to track the brain and its progress, this technology could help prevent athletes from developing serious brain damage or disease in the future. Coughlin emphasizes that “Further understanding may help inform players of associated risk, allow us to test preventive and therapeutic interventions that may improve the lives of players”.
The technological aspect of sports has brought on a whirlwind of conversation. This aspect of sports is advancing rapidly and becoming more complicated but it is helping athletes and the game tremendously. There are so many different computerized systems that are helping the game grow and also helping the game become much safer for everyone involved. The parts, pieces, and concepts behind each of the different technologies can become very complicated but slowly we are starting to become better at using these systems to actually improve different aspects of the game. The biggest advantage we have with this technology are the medical advancements being made for athletes to help keep them as safe as possible. With all this being said, as with any technological advancement, there are disadvantages and improvements that still need to be made but without a doubt we are on the right track to allowing computers to start to better all types of sports. At the end of the day sports technology is only going to continue to get better and better.
Aroganam, G., Manivannan, N., & Harrison, D. (2019). Review on wearable technology sensors used in consumer sport applications. Sensors, 19(9) doi:http://dx.doi.org.wilkes.idm.oclc.org/10.3390/s19091983
Brain injuries; evidence of brain injury found in young NFL players. (2016, Dec 18). Patient Care Law Weekly Retrieved from https://wilkes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1846808199?accountid=62703
Campos, M. (2018, Jul 18). VAR in the 2018 world cup has its pros and cons. University Wire Retrieved from https://wilkes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest com.wilkes.idm.oclc.org/docview/2071312433?accountid=62703
Max. “New Technology in Sports Medicine – 8 Impactful Inventions 2017.” Appcessories, 25 Nov. 2016, www.appcessories.co.uk/new-technology-in-sports-medicine/.
Peters, J. (2016, Sep 24). In-game replay tech nears green light. Winnipeg Free Press Retrieved from https://wilkes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest com.wilkes.idm.oclc.org/docview/1823916780?accountid=62703
PUSH // The Ultimate VBT System.” PUSH // The Ultimate VBT System, www.trainwithpush.com/.