When we think about the influence of technology on sport, most of us probably think about its most apparent implementations, like a challenge in tennis or VAR in football; the truth is, it’s actually been there a whole lot longer.
For example, could you imagine a world in which professional athletes of today didn’t take any supplements in the form of vitamins, minerals or quick-absorbing carbohydrates, made easily available today due to breakthrough researches in the field of chemistry? Or the world in which some of the most severe sports injuries, which are not even considered difficult to treat anymore, take many months or even years to recover from because, well, the medical technology hasn’t advanced that far?
The answer is, you probably could because that was the world of amateur sports, some 60-70 years ago. Some argue that sport has “lost its soul,” due to this “unholy interference;” nevertheless, technology has already become a vital part of any sports competition, and it looks like it’s only going to become an even more integral part of it in the future.
Today, we have a different world, the one in which everything revolves around money. The sports market itself is vast, athletes earn ridiculously large sums of money, and then there’s also sports betting. It is in everyone’s best interest to make modern tech as widely adopted as possible in sports, but confined within limits of allowed usage, because it brings athleticism to the next level and strengthens fair-play at the same time, ultimately making the whole experience much more enjoyable and honest for sports fans, as well as occasional high-rollers.
From our current viewpoint, getting rid of any tech influence in sports would probably look like taking a trip back to the Stone Age. Without tech-powered exercises, proper supplementation, hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy, and other cutting-edge medical technology, the athletes’ performance would suffer greatly, and they would be more prone to injuries. In this scenario, the gap between those truly talented and hard workers would probably widen – there are those who believe this is the way things should be. Unfortunately for them, as we said before, it’s not the way things work nowadays.
Less successful athletes, degraded performance and fewer records, mean less commercial interest, and this means less overall interest. Compare, for example, the achievements of the Big Three in tennis with any other three players of any era, and the hype that surrounds them; or the battle for supremacy between Lionel Messi and Ronaldo with any such previous rivalry.
The answer to this question is definitely yes – as long as there’s no abuse. The way things are going, it will probably become even more tightly integrated into sports, as part of an unavoidable evolutionary merge. And who knows, sports and athletes, as we currently know them, might one day, in a not so distant future, become obsolete and replaced by tech-driven e-sports and e-athletes.