Although many sports are essentially unchanged over years and even centuries, it’s true to say that new technology has always had an impact on how the games are played. In most cases all you need to play your favourite sport is enough people, open space and an appropriate ball, plus perhaps a bat of some sort. But if we look at the evolution of protective clothing, for instance, and the way scientific knowledge has been used to enhance player performance and make professional sport safer over the years, we can see that technological progress and the development of sport have gone hand in hand.
Reaching the fans
The obvious intersection of sports and technology is in the way it is recorded or is broadcast live to be enjoyed by fans remote from the location in which it is being played. Thanks first to radio and then television, high-level matches of sports like cricket and football can be experienced by millions around the world. This has changed the development of the sports, as the money earned from broadcast rights is used to provide better and more hi-tech facilities, as well as to attract highly-paid players.
These days, television broadcasts of matches can be further enhanced using slow-motion replays, multiple camera angles, special effects and virtual reality. Furthermore, the medium has stiff competition from the internet, where match statistics, discussion and even live streaming can often be found. It’s easy to get the latest cricket in India news on your smartphone, while also placing a bet on the outcome of a match.
Driven by data
Modern sports are increasingly data-driven, and technology provides more exact methods of gathering and analysing that data. Cameras and monitors can be attached to players’ helmets and clothing, providing not only point-of-view visual data but also recording their heart rate, body temperature and perspiration in order to get a picture of their state of health and levels of exertion.
This data is then analysed by sophisticated computer programs and can be used in a multitude of ways. Coaches can track team dynamics and decide which players are being under-used, or analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a side.
In cricket the umpire’s decision used to be final. But sometimes the difference between whether a player is in or out can be too close to call without the aid of technology. For instance, when deciding whether a ball caught behind made contact with the bat there are several technologies in use if it is not obvious to the naked eye.
Ultra-edge technology measures the sound frequency of ball striking bat via a sensitive microphone on the stump. A slow-motion camera also tracks the ball’s progress, and finally infra-red ‘hotspot’ cameras that can capture the moment of contact are utilised. Multiple cameras, in combination with computer software, are used in a similar way to determine if a ball would have gone on to hit the stumps in cases of LBW.
We can see that the use of technology in sports is very pervasive. In future it is likely to be even more commonplace and will become even more advanced.