Should Technology in Sports Be Limited?

“After nearly 100 years of constant improvement, we seem to be entering a new phase in sports: Peak Olympics, when the steady march of human progress reaches its final plateau. Let’s consider the history of speedskating results”(Proulx). According to the New York Times Magazine, looking through the records of Olympics, there has not been a new record for an event in a long time. Athletes are still breaking records, but it is barely noticeable.

An example of the record being broken would be in the winter Olympic sport of speed skating. Speed skating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in traveling a certain distance on skates. A new record was broken in the 1,500-meter race by 0.2 seconds. Without as much physical edge as previous generations, they have found new ways to improve their skills. 

In speed skating, the best example of technology would be a clap skate. The skates have a hinged blade that makes the skate have contact with the ice longer which makes for longer strides and a more powerful thrust. In 2002, there was a new bodysuit that entered the world of speed skating. According to Len Brownlie of the Simon Fraser University, “This suit had made it possible for there to be “less drag” when a skater was racing” (Brownlie). 

With all of these new technological advances, it has put a step forward that previous generations may not have had. Although some records are staying the same as they have in past years, there are sports such as swimming that have had a dramatic increase in the number of records that have been broken. According to the news site The Conversation, “The introduction of the suit was shown to improve a swimmers’ performance dramatically as the designs evolved. After 43 records were broken in 40 events at the 2009 World Swimming Championships and 130 world records were broken in less than a year, the global swimming governing body voted to ban the full-length suits” (Dyer). The tragedy was not that the suits were banned but that the world records remained in place. This meant that future athletes did not have the same advantage as those that had set them. This decision was arguably unfair.

Other than swimming and skating, there has been another sport that has had controversial opinions, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. In 2008, he sought to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic games. The use of his prosthetic legs with carbon fiber blades resulted in a furious debate on what advantage they gave him. After many different views were put into consideration, they had allowed him the opportunity to run and compete through layers of deciding. 

There is always the question of when we will hit the maximum in the sports industry. When we think about the different ways that technology can support our bodies and brains, those limits may still be a long way away with the world constantly evolving. 

According to Insider Magazine, “Football coaches have found new ways to put drills into their players now more than ever” (Loria). In past decades there have been films for the players and coaches to watch and criticize. Now, there is a new three-dimensional technology that captures the movement of players to see the errors that were being made. “We’re able to tell exactly how the athlete is moving in real-time,” says Bir. “Having a system where you can get real-time data, provide it back to that person and say, “You’re pushing off with your right leg more than your left leg,” or “you need to adapt this” … it’s going to really enhance a lot of athletes’ ability to perform” (Loria).

Sports are based on rules, and by setting those rules, we can choose which technologically enabled enhancements are allowed. But whether it’s a piece of technology that helps someone run faster, which could be banned, or more strategic training based on genetics, we’re going to keep getting faster and stronger. The use of technology in the current time of sports should not be limited because of the constantly evolving technology that we have access to today.

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