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The Effects of Technology on Football and Sport
The quality of broadcast have improved by an increase in the technology of the camera, firstly the frames per second was increased and development to enable a better continuity of visuals during a televised match. Then a big break through was made enabling football matches to be shown in colour which helped to distinguish between the teams and the colour of cards shown by referee's.
This was met by an increase in the number of camera's which provided coverage and shots from different angles, so that a sports director covering the match could chose the most appropriate camera angle at any given moment during the game to enhance the spectator experience.
Development in technology has allowed electrodes to be placed strategically upon the body which can be filmed by special camera's which can then determine key angles of limbs in relation the ball and estimate levels of force put through each joint and muscle.
This has benefited the sport as it has assisted in the development of footwear that is both safer and makes the wearer less injury prone or is designed for the enhancement of a certain attribute such as the adidas F50's for agility or the predators for shot power.
It takes a full team of biomechanical experts to design modern footballs which are used in big competitions in the world cup, who are able to measure the effects of swerve and drag upon the ball in flight.
Development of components of the game
The ball itself was originally stitched by hand and the threads were much more prominent creating a different flight pattern, the development of football creation technology has contributed to a higher frequency of goals scored from outside the area.
The technology of under soil heating is still exclusive to the richer top flight clubs. This allows them to keep a well maintained pitch, which is not saturated with water from the rain. This allows a greater quality of football to play as the upper layer of the turf remains intact and the group even, in contrast to the boggy uneven pitches of current lower leagues and even the richest clubs in the 20th century.
Has undergone development. It is no longer just an option of lifting random objects or free weight bars and plates, the commercialisation of cardiovascular machines such as treadmills and rowers allows players to improve their fitness within their homes and most professional clubs have their own gym, where they can train as a team under the supervision of qualified professionals who can tailor programmes towards the players individual needs. Most commonly this will be a strength training programme as most technical and fitness improvements can be done on the training ground itself.
The richest clubs may have access to expensive wind tunnels and harness kits to enable their players to train to run against resistance.
Kits have gotten lighter and made of special ‘climacool’ material which helps to prevent overheating. Players are able to wear extra tight clothes that have been specifically designed to preserve heat, these are called ‘Thermals’
Internet linked data transfer
In September 2011, Adidas released Football boots which had a chip within them that could measure distance ran, speed and calories burnt. This can be transferred and uploaded to a PC and stored online for analysis and comparison. This can allows workouts to be better measured and work within the correct zones needed for development.
Climate controlled chambers
Other very specialised technology is available to richer clubs such as the hyperbaric chamber, altitude chambers and thermo simulation chambers.
The hyperbaric chambers allow the occupants of the chamber to breathe in higher levels of oxygen. These higher levels of oxygen can create greater pressure "thus allowing a greater absorption of oxygen throughout the body tissues" (Adams et al, 2010). This will supposedly increase the rate of recovery from previous bouts of exercise, allowing lactic acid debts to be cleared and myoglobin stores replenished at a greater rate. This is an obvious benefit to the clubs that can afford one, particularly during periods within the calendar where fixtures are closely congested, such as the winter period in the EPL (English premier league).
Altitude chambers - these are chambers that act to control levels of Oxygen, typically lowering Oxygen levels to simulate conditions that might be experienced whilst competing abroad in countries with different altitude levels than the body is acclimatised to. Alternatively training camps can be set up in countries of a high altitude to train within. The England national team went to train in Switzerland which has a high altitude in order to acclimatise them to South African altitude for the 2010 world cup.
Both options for altitude training can be very expensive, therefore arguably this gives them an unfair advantage over individuals and teams which cannot afford to and therefore fatigue quicker during the tournament due to their body being incapable of performing efficiently with limited Oxygen.
A thermo chamber allows the temperature within inside it to be controlled; this is particularly helpful to a team that is due to play in a hot climate to prevent overheating imitating their performance.
Technological Assistance for referees
Within Football there is currently no technology used to assist the referee in their decision, this is of big contention within the sport at the moment, as a lot of key individuals are championing technology that is currently being used in other sports such as ‘Hawkeye’, which will better enable the referee in deciding whether the ball goes over the goal line or not.
This is a consequence of high profile incidents where the judgement of the human eye has been called into question. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in the Quarter final knockout stages, a shot from England player Frank Lampard bounced off the underside of the crossbar and down towards the goal line, the German goalkeeper soon after cleared the ball away. Whether or not the ball crossed line the line would appear to come down to personal interpretation of the event and likely to be influenced by personal bias, certainly in the first ever competitive fixtures of the 19th Century, this would remain to be the case. However the incident was nearly instantly available for review via video camera recordings, taken from multiple angles that were able to almost conclusively confirm that the ball did fully cross the line.
A remarkably similar incident happened in the final of the 1966 World Cup, England versus Germany. This time it was a German player whose shot bounced off the crossbar and onto the goal line. Once again the goal was not given and opinion remains divided on whether it did or didn’t cross the goal line, largely depending on whether you are English or German. However in this instance, the angles and quality of the camera’s in operation at the event, were insufficient to conclusively determine whether the ball crossed the line or not, when reviewing the video footage of the incident.
A distinction must therefore be made between games played before any video evidence was available where judgements were purely based on human perception and games of the late 20th century where there was some video evidence which wasn’t always conclusive, to present day where there is sufficient camera’s of a high enough technology, for us to freeze the action and create a 3d image of an event, allowing up to full 360 degree rotation, in order to see things from the appropriate angle, be it in front of the goal or from behind the goal. Each angle recorded by camera’s helps to further identify; in this case whether a Football has crossed a lined marking upon the pitch. However this is only available retrospectively and although it is possible to do what they do in Rugby and take a small timeout in the game to allow the referee to consult Video replays of the incident there and then before making their decision, it has yet to be authorised by the governing body of World Football (FIFA), who argue that the stoppage in play to consult the video, would spoil the continuity of the game.
Enter the proposition for additional technology, at the forefront is ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Goalref’.
Hawkeye is a camera based system and was first tested in Football within the UK in the low profile ‘Hampshire Senior Cup Final’, where the Hawkeye technology was in operation to determine whether a ball crossed the line but the results would not be fed back to the referee, therefore will have no influence upon the game but would give a retrospective indication of whether it could be useful.
The Hawkeye was then given the chance to be put into operation in the international friendly of England vs Belgium on 02/06/12. The technology will then be tested by an independent body called (EMPA), who will do further tests and help to establish the degree of inaccuracy of the technology and compare it to that of the average degree of inaccuracy of the human referee.
Goal ref is able to digitally track the location of both the ball and the players, which will help not only in determining whether the ball crosses a line marking on the pitch but will also put to bed the insistent debates surrounding decisions from referees concerning whether a play was off or onside. This will have a big impact on the game of Football within the UK, as scenario’s in which goals are given or disallowed, based on an offside decision, can change who wins and who looses games, the knock on effect of this can be winning or loose a competition and promotion or relegation from a league. All of which can have an effect on the clubs finances and consequentially their future as a club.
I believe that the game of Football within the UK would be better for it by inviting any technological assistance to the referee. There are concerns about the accuracy rating of the technology and the degree of error but this should also be compared to the degree of inaccuracy associated with the judgement of the human match officials.