Suit Up!

From AFP:

SHANGHAI: Swimming will try to bury the infamous super-suits era at the Shanghai world championships but a lack of new records will provide a constant reminder of the fiasco.

While polyurethane-clad swimmers broke a whopping 43 world records at the 2009 edition in Rome, astonishing even themselves, athletes clad in traditional gear may set only a couple – or none at all – in the Chinese metropolis.

The stark fact is that since the suits – designed to help buoyancy and support certain muscles, making it easier to swim faster for longer – were outlawed at the start of 2010, not one long-course record has fallen.

So how is technology affecting sports? We all know the benefits of shoes with better padding for running, stopwatches for accurate timings, equipment for increased safety, television for enhanced viewing and so on (simple list available here) But what happens when adoption of some of these technologies indirectly challenge the fairness, the spirit and ethic of the game?

The textile swimsuit is one example–a saga almost imaging the world of swim sport to the formula one where both man and machine, athlete and apparel, compete

What are your thoughts on technology playing an increasingly bigger role in sports today? How do we manage its role? 

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8 thoughts on “Suit Up!

  1. Despite calls that sports should remain purely human, i believe that with an element of technology, it will only benefit even more. Controversial goals in football are still hotly debated, and FIFA’s refusal to implement goal line technology despite its obvious benefits has led to unhappiness in many quarters.

    Even with an increase in the role of technology in sports, it is still possible for us to manage its role. Take tennis for example, which uses both umpires and Hawkeye technology for debatable calls. Thus, i feel that the human element in sports can still be retained despite the increase in the use of technology

  2. Despite calls that sports should remain purely human, i believe that with an element of technology, it will only benefit even more. Controversial goals in football are still hotly debated, and FIFA’s refusal to implement goal line technology despite its obvious benefits has led to unhappiness in many quarters.

    Even with an increase in the role of technology in sports, it is still possible for us to manage its role. Take tennis for example, which uses both umpires and Hawkeye technology for debatable calls. Thus, i feel that the human element in sports can still be retained despite the increase in the use of technology

  3. I do not mind technology playing an increasing role in sports. I believe that technology enhances the sports as it results in better and more accurate results. For example, hawk eye in tennis aids players and umpires in making accurate decisions. action replay in sports let audiences relieve moments of glory. Thus i believe that technology enhances sports. However, the influence technology has on sports must not cross a certain extent. If technology eats into the pleasure of viewing sports, it should be eradicated. Yet, i have not experienced such events. Moreover, I encourage the use of technology in sports like soccer in the form of goal line technology to present more accurate results and to reduce human error.

  4. With rapid technological advances, it is inevitable that technology plays a bigger role in sports. However, I feel that technology might actually change the entire way the game is played or even ruin the joy of playing the sport. Technology for instance the suits mentioned above can enhance the performance of the athlete thus serving as a short-cut replacing the hours of hard work and effort put in. Thus result in athletes not giving their 100% when training and that would taint the traditional value of sportsmanship. However, I do feel that technology playing a greater role in sport isn’t that bad an idea, as it can help to raise the level of accuracy and up the competitiveness of the sport.
    It is possible to manage its role by implementing regulations to ensure that technology is only used to monitor and reduce errors, but not used for enhancing the performance of athletes during the game.

  5. If technology’s benefits were to be applied across the board among athletes, no doubt it would “indirectly challenge the fairness, the spirit and ethic of the game”. However, in this case, it is fair and justified when refering to this example.
    eg. Assuming that certain technologies such as the aforementioned super-suits are still outlawed, and an athelete that has always been a record setter couldn’t do so this year because of just a slight muscle tear. If the suit could help the athlete to continue his race temporarily thus allowing him to perform as well as he set out to do, then by all means this would be advantageous for the sports realm.
    The only limitation is the possibility of complacency and over reliance on these technologies as well as the excessive capabilities that these technologies have. Too much or too advanced technologies could defeat the purpose of sports.
    -joline

  6. As a sportsman, I cannot denied the usefulness of having advanced technology to facilitate the game play of sports. With highly advanced technology, it may result in a more accurate result in sports, which essentially, differentiate the winner from the loser. Traditionally, due to the absence of the high end technology to facilitate game play of sports, the officials/judges/umpires will have the final say which will determine the outcome of the game. This leads to an increase in resentment about the unfairness of sports since humans by nature are fallible, and thus officials/judges/umpires may make mistakes too. With the introduction of elements of technology into the game such as reviewing of replays, the outcome of the game will be less prone to errors, thus instilling a sense of fairness into the sports realm.

    Yet, what I agreed was essentially introducing technology to balance the whole sports, and not developing high tech equipments that will enhance athletes ability. Referring to the article of the textile swimsuit which suggested the possible use of technology enhanced equipments to improve the ability of athletes, I only have 1 question : What is the difference between such high tech equipments and illegal sports drugs like steroids? Both of the above allowed athletes to perform at levels that they will not be able to achieve otherwise, though of differing significance. From my perspective, sporting events are suppose to be fair which includes the rules of the game play and the players themselves. With such ability enhancing equipments, it will no doubt lead to a deprive of the sporting spirit which may dampen the joy of engaging in a sport.

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