The inclusion of technology in sports is borne out of the quest for perfection. The fans, athletes, clubs, national teams, and officials seek to eradicate error in sport or make it safer.
To achieve the above-mentioned, new technology was introduced to various sports. While some are masterstrokes others are not.
These are the five most successful sports technologies that globally used.
The Hawk-Eye is a camera system mostly situated above the field of play to trace and analyze the movement of any object used in sports. This object could be a football, tennis ball, cricket ball, etc.
The Hawk-Eye helps officials determine if the ball was kicked, how it was hit, and where it landed or touched.
The technology has been used in cricket since 2001, although it was only in 2008 that it was approved by the ICC (International Cricket Council). In 2002, the Hawk-Eye was introduced to tennis and by 2005, umpires of the game started using it.
Furthermore, the Hawk-Eye is one of the goal-line technology systems approved by the Federation of International Football (FIFA). The technology was adopted by different leagues at different times.
For instance, the use of the Hawk-Eye was introduced to the English Premier League in the 2013/2014 season.
The technology helps officials make quick and accurate decisions. This helps to eradicate delay and error in sports.
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For example, when the ball crosses the goal-line in football, the referee gets an instant notification. Thereby reducing errors associated with manually checking if the ball had crossed the line or not.
The HANS device is a head and neck support device used in motorsports to reduce the likelihood of head and neck injuries. For example, if a motorsports driver is involved in a crash, he stands a chance of avoiding skull fracture if he is on the HANS device.
According to Nuno Costa, the Head of Competitor Safety at FIA (Federation International de l’ Automobile): drivers and co-drivers [in motorsports] would not have survived [crash] without the use of FHR devices.
The Hubbard’s Head and Neck Support (HANS) device was the original FHR (Frontal Head Restraint) device that has been developed further.
The device was not popular until motorsports legend, Dale Earnhardt died due to head injuries in 2001. Following his death, motorsports drivers started wearing the device more.
It became more popular after Robert Kubica came out unscathed from his massive crash at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.
Hence, the FIA made it mandatory for all major championships since 2008. Since the introduction of HANS, there has not been any death relating to Craniovertebral junction (CVJ) injuries in the IndyCar or NASCAR competitions.
Without a Prosthetic device, Oscar Pistorius could not have competed at the London Olympic Games in 2012. Considering that he was an amputee, he would not have nurtured the idea too.
The Prosthetic devices people without lower limbs and/or upper limbs to participate in competitive sport. Like Oscar Pistorius and more, the Prosthetic device helps people compete in track events. Also, people without lower limbs can participate in snowboarding/skiing, cycling, etc.
People without upper limbs who wish to participate in competitive sports are able to achieve their dreams thanks to Prosthetic devices. The Prosthetic device helps them to compete in sports such as cycling, rowing, golf, baseball, etc.
The history of the use of the Prosthetic device dates back to ancient times however, its use is yet to be generally accepted.
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Wearable Technology Devices:
Wearable devices are part of the most recent technology introduced to sports. These devices are worn in different parts of the body. They are worn on the foot, head, arms, behind the ears, etc.
These devices are aimed at helping experts obtain data from athletes while competing or during training. It helps to detect real-time health conditions of athletes such as heartbeat, pulse rate, hydration, etc.
The use of Wearable devices became more important following the death of Korey Stringer who died of heatstroke in 2001. Since then, there have various innovations.
For instance, in the NFL (National Football League) in the USA, some athletes wear devices in their helmets that help to generate data used to determine the impact of a head collision.
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This became important following fears of the impact of concussions on athletes in the long term. Also, impact sensors are worn behind the ear lobe by rugby athletes to generate data.
Furthermore, it was reported that the Germany National Male Football team made use of a Wearable Technology Device during the 2014 FIFA World Cup which they won. Chips were attached to players’ boots who produced specific data to help the technical team make informed decisions.
Video Assistant Referee:
Video refereeing is used in various sports. Prior to the introduction of video refereeing, it was almost impossible for umpires/referees to change their initial decisions.
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Video refereeing is used in the National Hockey League, National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball.
It has its pros and cons and has had its highs and criticism. Most of these criticisms are from its use in football matches. Since its introduction in the 2019/20 English Premier League season, fans, managers, footballers, and clubs have shown their resentments towards its use.
Manchester United legend once said: “The biggest problem I have with it at the moment, and I am against the grain, is the fans hate it,” At other times, he said:
The referee going over to the screen is not a problem. The referee going over to the screen and not sticking with the decision if it’s right is the problem. It’s the application of the technology that’s the big problem, or the rule itself.
Jose Mourinho while at Tottenham showed his displeasure on the use of VAR in a match where a penalty was awarded to an opposition.
He said: “I’m unhappy with the VAR. The referee can make a mistake and give a cheap penalty. But then the VAR is there to do a job.”
Despite so many negatives around the technology, Soofootball still believes VAR in Football should be improved instead of being scrapped out completely.
Technology has improved sports in different ways. It has helped saved lives, especially when you consider the importance of the HANS device. Also, it helps referees make quick and accurate decisions especially the Hawk-Eye technology.
Importantly, amputees are able to achieve their dreams of becoming sportsmen via the introduction of prosthetic devices.
The use of V.A.R has so far not been perfected but the accuracy of the technology is not in doubt. It is able to determine if a player is in an offside position to the barest millimeter.
Most times, what is called into questioning is not VAR itself but its application by referees. Hence, with a better application, fewer criticisms will ensue.