Should there be a limit on technology that improves athletic performance?
Sport has had many advancements in regard to technology in the sporting industry. The use of technology has become an important factor to athletes and coaches. Technology has eliminated numerous restrictions in season based sports. The introduction of advanced technological equipment has the ability of simulating different scenarios and settings which has many benefits for the athletes. Through the years technology has also improved sporting equipment which has enhanced and aided the overall performance of athletes on and off the field. However, in some cases there has been an overuse of technology where the ‘nature of performance’ has been altered. Furthermore, the countries with insufficient funds are severely disadvantaged compared to countries with available funds as their ability to enhance performance and improve equipment is more difficult.
Biofeedback training is designed to address the visual, vestibular, tactile, and auditory factors of the athlete’s performance (Mcgowan and Neptune et al., 2009, p. 92, 93). Biofeedback training allows the athletes to train and gain feedback to improve performance using simulators to create a realistic scenario and setting. This technique of training is used in a wide variety of sports including cycling, rowing and bobsledding. The University of California at Davis developed a training simulator which allowed the U.S bobsled team to practice for the Olympics (Mcgowan and Neptune et al., 2009, p. 92, 93). Biofeedback training has allowed great advancement in the sporting world and technology and should not be limited as it allows skills and tactics to be improved through, year-round training with unlimited runs per day, difficult portions of the track to be repeatedly practiced, which improved their competitive performance, overall athletic techniques and reduces their anxiety and improves psychological thought processes in professional sporting situations. In addition reduction of expenses for travel, equipment transport and reduced injury are benefits of simulated training.
These advances have led to major disputes between administrators, coaches and athletes as some state that technology has taken over the sport which in turn has depleted the nature of the true athlete’s capabilities (Magdalinski, 2008, pp. 1-14). In Olympic swimming technology is continuously evolving. ‘Super suits’ were the greatest technological improvement in swimwear created in calibration with NASA in the year 2008(Engineering Sport, 2012). However, this suit consisted of a material called polyurethane which reduced drag and increased buoyancy. This advance in technology depleted the performance nature of athletes which allowed 255 world records to be broken within the year it was legal before being banned (ibid)(red markers- figure 1). These abnormal trends on the graph indicate that the suits drove the athlete to success and clearly allowed the athletes to achieve over the true humans capabilities. As seen on in figure 1, once the suits were removed in the 2010 the same results and limits were never reached again by any athlete which means the suits depleted the ‘nature of performance’ and altered the playing field for those who wore it. The use of ‘super suits’ evidently gave an unfair advantage to the athlete who uses it to and disadvantaged all competitors past, present (athletes without the suit) and those in the future who are looking to become elite swimmers.
Figure 1 -Mean of top 3 performances for Men’s 100 m freestyle swimming
Source: http://engineeringsport.co.uk/2012/10/05/top-5-olympic-sports-that-have-been-influenced-by-technology-number-4-swimming-textile-advances-in-swimsuits/ [Accessed: 5 Nov 2013]
On the other hand, certain technologies have the ability to enhance athletes without altering the ‘nature of performance’. Athletes are…