Let’s Talk About Sports

Let’s Talk About Sports

September 16th, 2013 | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation

future sportsSport (n): A physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.

As I research the future of sports, I notice two clear and important themes. First, many activities fall under the category of “sports”, but most of the media attention and critical thought goes into the most popular team sport games, such as football (both kinds), baseball, and cricket.  Second, there is almost no thought at all going into the generation of the completely new games for the tech-savvy people of the future.

The rising concussion crisis in American football could lead to safer helmets or a change in rules. Good.   But also, duh. We’re changing sports rules to reflect the (un)fairness of chemical enhancements. Some might say we should have figured this out a long time ago, but nevertheless, it’s good that we’re getting to it.  Gender equality in sports and gaming is becoming a big issue due to sexism complaints and our changing cultural views, and so we’re starting to make some changes, like the recent FINA approval of mixed gender relays for swimming. Super.

There is a big difference, however, between responding to problems we encounter along the way and envisioning potential opportunities and problems that we will encounter in our technology-boosted future. A more valuable use of brainpower would be to start adjusting the rules for when biologically enhanced people are commonplace. In Man and Superman, they discuss the fairness of athletes with biological advantages competing against those without. The issue has already come into light several times, especially in sports where timing up to a tenth of a second is crucial.   So, how will technological enhancements influence penalties and the game itself in the future? How will it inspire the invention of completely new games?

Here are a few potential sports of the future:

  • Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: Life-Sized Edition. Syfy is already on top of this, but what about when technology and education is so accessible that anyone can play?
  • Superhuman Olympics: Where Biologically Enhanced Players Compete. Slowly, but surely, we’re already working on this. What should the rules look like for these games?
  • Competitive LARPING: The Technology Enhanced Version. Literally Transform Yourself Into your Avatar and Play an Adventure or Strategy Game In Real Life.

How do we make rules for these games? Who decides? Where and how will they be played? Answer these questions and suggest more futuristic sport ideas in the comments below…

…AND THEN KEEP READING

SOCIAL MEDIA: MAKING LIFE HARDER SINCE 2002
Social media is making it hard for players with radical opinions to express themselves freely. The argument now is that players are always supposed to be representing their team, but is it fair that “improper use” of personal social media off the field results in player penalties on the field?   It seems that a reconfiguration of how we govern sports is in order. How are we supposed to maintain a personal life while also representing a larger team with different values?

DEAR CABLE, YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE IN TOWN
Most professional sports today are more about entertainment and advertising opportunity than the actual sport itself. This means distribution is a huge factor for sporting events, and a huge area for opportunity. Cable the way it stands now is on its way out. We are on the hunt for high quality alternatives for watching sports, but in a world with so many options, how will we all share and watch sports together? And how will this affect advertising? Will this affect how many people watch games? And will that affect which games get media attention?

WHICH GAMES ARE FADING OUT OF STYLE?
Last February, in a decision that shocked the world of sports well beyond wrestling, the International Olympic Committee voted to exclude the sport after the 2016 Rio Games. The rationale was that modern audiences would rather watch skateboarding, or some such more “exciting” sport, although actual attendance at the Games had always been high.

This reflects a problem in the efficacy of our rating methods. So, what constitutes a popular sport or game to watch? If it’s only TV ratings we use to judge viewing numbers, it’s a clearly flawed system because most of us find other ways to consume our media – and many of us are watching together—which is not reflected in the numbers.

IS THE FUTURE PLAYING GAMES OR WATCHING THEM?
Watching live sports has always been a popular pastime. Watching fictional sports teams in movies has also been popular in America, a phenomenon now spreading to unlikely places like New Delhi. But, with skyrocketing ticket prices and limited access to affordable viewing at home, could watching professional sports give way to actually playing?

Outreach efforts like the Let’s Move campaign in America and the Sports festival for orphans in Nigeria encourage young people to play sports because of the mental and physical benefits of exercise and collaboration. As we learn and communicate more about the importance of healthy living, will the future be more about playing games or watching?

About Mallory Smith