We live in a world where we have become so climatized to the expansion of what is humanly possible that a self-driving car doesn’t seem to be out of reach. Understanding how technology influences every aspect of our lives isn’t always straightforward. Take sports, for example. Sports are usually thought of as a physical activity that acts as an escapism from the technological elements of life. However, the way we consume sports is constantly changing, as technology has worked its way into this sphere, too, and secured a firm hold.
How we enjoy sports has dramatically changed and so have the activities that go alongside consuming sports. This includes the way we bet on it. Punters have always used sports bookmakers to wager on a match or event to make it more interesting, but how consumers are doing that now is significantly different from how it was 20 years ago. In the past, if you wanted to place a bet, you would have to go into a physical brick and motor betting shop and write down the wager you wished to put on. However, in the present day, if you wanted to bet on the test match between England and New Zealand, you’d use your phone to check cricket betting sites like Betway to see the odds. Odds would show England is +13/8, while New Zealand is 2/1, and you could decide who to back from there and do so on your mobile device.
Even consumer apps like Strava are changing how we enjoy sports. It is like a moving social media where you can post your runs, swims, or walks. With likes and pictures, it could be seen as an Instagram for sports. There are also apps for how we enjoy sports, be that through news or streaming services. Apps like Bleacher Report, LiveScore, or even streaming apps, when wanting to watch top sporting events, are changing how we ingest sport every day. It may seem ordinary now, but it is a remarkable technological advancement that has altered how we consume sports.
Possibly some of the most controversial technological advancements when it comes to sport, despite the clear advantages, is the use of video assistance or motion tracking software to make refereeing decisions. How the debate arises initially, though, isn’t in if the outcome is correct in terms of the rules or not, but whether it’s in the spirit of the game. For as long as people have competed, there has been a referee or umpire to oversee the enforcement of the rulebook. There is bound to be human error in how the game is officiated. Previously, some argue, it became part of the fun, a piece of the spectacle, and even gave way to hours of conversations and debates. We wouldn’t have gotten a moment as iconic as Diego Maradona’s Hand of God if it wasn’t for a refereeing error. Those on the opposing end didn’t often agree, which saw the implementation of such technological assistance.
When it comes to sports like tennis, where Hawk-Eye is absolute, it’s hard to see why people oppose it, and it has generally been well received. The same could be said about tracking finishes in running and horse racing, where it isn’t always apparent to the naked eye who won. VAR, on the other hand, has mixed results in soccer. That could be because there is still an element of human decision-making in the interpretation of what is shown. Controversial as it may be, it gets it right more often than not, and if anything, it has put the rule book in soccer under the microscope.
Movement trackers have revolutionized how both professional athletes and ordinary people are analyzed. We can see every detail of an athlete’s movement within professional sports, no matter in what field they ply their trade. That ability has allowed for accelerated development in tactics, sports science, and athletic achievement. Being able to store that sort of data can only lead to further results that we may not be able to predict yet.
It also has a dramatic impact on a micro-level. Those who partake in sports or athletics can trap their movement and activity through apps and smartwatches. The explosions of supercomputers on your wrist, like Fitbit and Garmin, have started a new trend of people staying active and engaging in new social media centered around being engaged rather than sitting and staring at a screen. Now, these are considered unmissable additional devices for mobile phone users.
The rapid rate at which technology is evolving is astounding. The advancements that have been made in the past decade or two are like nothing we have ever seen, to the point that new developments don’t even shock most people anymore. Arguably that is at its clearest in the world of sport.