Take a look around. Almost everything you see is touched by technology today, sports included. Imagine a spray-on clothing within a couple of decades that repels water or Triathletes could enter a “spray chamber” to change their clothes between events and 3D printing to build kit such as running shoes to suit the weather on the day or compensate for injury before a runner goes out on the track. All this and more will surely work up adrenaline to technology savvy sport lovers.
Technology is the new game changer in Olympic sport. And all sport fans would agree that technology is as much a part of an athlete’s armory today as nutrition, training and coaching. As human pro-thletics advance, science and technology will not only make possible the disabled to compete, but the able-bodied to do better. Do you know, Tiger Woods had eye surgery to improve his (normal) vision. Well, sounds fine to me. But consider this.
In 2009, the swimming regulatory body, Fina, banned high-tech swimsuits after 94% of races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were won by competitors wearing the LZR racer suit. The suit is said to cut an elite swimmer’s time by around 2%. Michael Phelps himself said, “When I hit the water [in the LZR swimsuit], I feel like a rocket.” Within a week of its launch, three world records were broken by swimmers wearing the suit. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LZR_Racer)
Seems to me it’s less likely that poorer countries with less sports budgets can keep up. Is it not surprising that poorer countries compete less in sports involving a lot of technology, such as cycling, sailing and rowing. And lets not forget the amount of investment that goes into training elite athletes is phenomenal.
Dr Emily Ryall, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Gloucester and vice-chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association, says “The Olympics is never going to be a fair competition. So much high-performance sport is driven by technology now, from sports nutrition to psychology to clothing and footwear.”
But enough on technology impacting players…that’s one side of the story. What about technology impacting the fans, the audience themselves and how. One big shift is clearly social media. But why? It’s simple: Four years is an eternity in Internet time and since the last Summer Olympics in 2008, social media has exploded.
Not just the , the entire web universe has evolved from 1.5 billion users in 2008 to 2.3 billion users in 2012.
2008: Facebook hit the 100 million-user threshold mark in 2008 passing MySpace in popularity.
2012: Facebook claims more than 835+ million users, is fast becoming a portal to the web at large for many and is a publicly traded company. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg is a global celebrity today. (Source: www.internetworldstats.com/facebook)
2008: 2008 saw explosive growth for Twitter (Source: http://twitterfacts.blogspot.in/2008/06/2-million-twitter-users.html) and it still finished the year with about 6 million registered users who sent about 300,000 tweets per day.
2012: On March 21, 2012, Twitter celebrated its sixth birthday while also announcing that it has 140 million users and sees 340 million tweets per day. The number of users is up 40% from their September 2011 number, which was said to have been at 100 million at the time. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter)
2008: In July 2006, Youtube declared more than 65,000 new videos uploaded every day with 100 million video views per day. By fall of 2008, YouTube users were uploading 10 hours of video to the site per minute. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube)
2012: London Olympic moments are sure to go viral and become immortalized on YouTube seemingly as they happen this summer, and it’s easy to see why. Youtube says it receives over 800 million unique visits per month watching more than 3 billion hours of video per month and upload 72 hours of new video content per minute.
Just looking at the staggering numbers of these three social networks reveals a sporting scene and world at large that have been transformed by social media since the last Summer Olympics.
And did I miss to add that I have’nt taken into account services like Pinterest, Foursquare and Google+ — none of which even existed in 2008. This summer, expect news to break, social sharing records to fall and moments to live on as never possible before, all thanks to social media!
One wonders to think — will all this pale in comparison to what 2016 has in store? One can only imagine.
How innovatively did you leverage social media during the 2012 London Olympics?
Please note: “The opinions expressed in this blog are my own views and not those of Cisco.”