There is no doubt that technology has helped sports increase in popularity and made athletes stronger and healthier. Social media has allowed millions of fans to share their opinions online, and teams across the world have been able to spread highlights and news instantaneously. New data and the advancement of computer technology has allowed athletes to better understand the effects that their diet and exercise routines have on their bodies. Despite these extremely beneficial impacts that technology has had on the world of sports, technology has also caused many complaints among both fans and players. The most prominent opinions regarding the use of technology in sports include the argument that technology should be used more to aid in officiating and the argument that technology should be used less in order to prevent cheating and unfair advantages.
In recent years, the argument in favor of using more technology gained heavy traction after a blatant missed pass-interference call against the Saints in the 2019 NFC Championship game. Angry fans argued that officials should have been able to review the play to determine if a penalty should have been enforced. The next season, the NFL instated a rule that allowed coaches to challenge plays that involved a pass-interference call or lack thereof. This rule is only one of many rules that players and fans have suggested to better take advantage of technology and make games more entertaining and competitive.
On the other hand, the argument in favor of limiting technology use in sports received a great wave of support following the 2019 Houston Astros cheating scandal in which the MLB Commissioner determined that the Houston Astros unfairly used cameras to steal signs from opponents to know what pitch was going to be thrown beforehand. The Astros used this technology in their World Series-winning season of 2017 and possibly since then as well, facts which have sparked even more controversy regarding the legitimacy of their title. In this scenario, the use of technology has created a serious problem about sportsmanship and fairness. To ensure that this abuse of technology does not happen as frequently or at all, fans and players argue that harsher punishments and more technology restrictions should be put into place.
The cases of the 2018 NFC Championship game and the Houston Astros scandal represent a struggle to strike a balance between limited and extensive technology use in sports, and how the use of technology relates to the rules of the game. The rise of sports in social media and improved machines were designed to spread the popularity of sports and make the athletes faster, stronger, and smarter. These two factors combine to make a more entertaining game, but every sports fan can agree that a fair game is the best game. When technology disrupts this fairness, then technology has not served its purpose.
While all this controversy occurs primarily in the professional and collegiate level, what happens on the higher levels of sports can have an impact on high school sports and lower. As more technology is being incorporated into higher-level sports, the result is more technology being used in high school sports to prepare young athletes for possible collegiate and professional careers. Of the many popular and most useful new technologies, apps that allow players to upload highlights online and cameras advanced to help incorporate film into a team’s routine are the most prominent. While high school athletic programs do not have access to the technology open to higher levels teams, the abuse of technology can nonetheless be an issue in ways such as tweaking hockey sticks against league rules to gain an advantage. Just as in professional and collegiate sports, a balance between fairness and technology use must be struck.
Without question, technology had been extremely impactful on the world of sports. It has allowed people to become fully emerged in sports through the growth of social media. It has made players better athletes and made games faster and more entertaining. It has also sparked controversy, as technology has been used to cheat or has been argued to be not used to its maximum potential. For the world of sports to be at its best, technology must be used in a way that both improves the quality of games and athletes, and maintains fairness and sportsmanship.