CONTEXTUAL ESSAY

TECHNOLOGY IN SPORT

JAMES MUGGERIDGE 

ARE WE LOSING THE BEAUTY OF OUR GAMES? 

FIVE YEARS INTO THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL WITH THE VAR SYSTEM 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Project links_________________________________1  

Digital artefact summary_________________________________2 

Future Media influence_________________________________2-3 

Sources _________________________________3 

Audience engagement_________________________________3-4 

Project refinement_________________________________4 

Conclusion_________________________________4 

Page Break 

PROJECT LINKS 

TECHNOLOGY IN SPORT 

ARE WE LOSING THE BEAUTY OF OUR GAMES? 

FIVE YEARS INTO THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL WITH THE VAR SYSTEM 

BLOG 1:  

‘Technology in sport: An overview  

BLOG 2:  

‘A redirection for perfection – The video review system in football’ 

BLOG 3:  

‘What’s next for VAR? The short-term future of football’ 

DIGITAL ARTEFACT SUMMARY 

For my digital artefact for BCM325, I decided to look at sports technology, and in particular, the future of sports technology. At its current state, technology in sport can be both beneficial and controversial. Over the years we have seen the innovation of technologies which can give a quick and concise readings on a player’s health, as well as having the ability to foresee any health challenges which may be negatives towards a player’s future. However, we have also seen the negative impact reviewing systems have had on the overall atmosphere and beauty of our sports. For my project I refined my artefact to specify the impact that the video assistant referee has had on the game of football.  

FUTURE MEDIA INFLUENCE 

In predicting the future, I incorporated theories and learnings from the future media topic. With reference to screenings, I linked my project with films such as Metropolis and Blade Runner which similarly looked at social division. VAR as a correction system in football has been a hot topic for discussion, bringing upon differing opinions and ideas behind it. Thus, it has divided fans on whether the implementation of the technology is improving the game.  

Furthermore, while incorporating the futures DA challenge, I based my prediction on Wendell Bell’s elements of future media. To incorporate Bell’s theory, I looked at the past and present of the VAR system which assisted in shaping my future prediction. I also looked at a desirable future and a future without intervention (a future with technology and no change).  

Wendell Bell’s elements of future media: 

  • Analysis and interpretation of the recent past and present; 
  • Projections of future developments with and without interventions; 
  • Descriptions of possible alternative actions and possible futures; 
  • Evaluation of Desirability of Alternative Futures; 
  • Selection of Specific Policies to Implement for Desirable futures. 

SOURCES 

Additional background sources which helped shape my project prediction included a scholarly text named ‘More decision-aid technology in sport? An analysis of football supporters’ perceptions on goal-line technology.’ This gave me an idea on how technological innovations have been received throughout football’s extensive fanbase.  

Further sources included data found from websites such as ‘BBC’ and ‘Statista’ which provided evidence into how fans feel about the VAR. An article by Varsity provided a subjective opinion of the future of football with reference to external factors such as technology and financial influencers.  

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT 

Audience engagement on Twitter assisted is redefining my project. Asking as to whether I should provide a whole view of technology in sport or a niche view of technology football, allowed me to alter my project overall.  

However, when promoting my first post I did not receive any beneficial comments. Looking back at my project’s progression, distributing my project over more platforms would have gained an increase in audience engagement.  

PROJECT REFINEMENT 

My project was on the future of sports technology. My original idea was to look at technology in sport on a well-rounded basis, however through contacting my twitter audience, I realised that I needed to make my project much more of a niche artefact. In my second blog I decided to reinvent my artefact and focus on the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) in football. My second blog involved the issues of VAR and showed evidence that the system is ruining rather than improving the game of football. In my third blog I looked at what football will look like in five years’ time. 

CONCLUSION  

In concluding my BCM325 digital artefact, I’m proud of what I have created as it reflects my own knowledge of football incorporated with learnings from the future media study.  

Personal positives: 

  • Presents a projected view of what the future of football looks like 
  • Satisfied with content created 
  • Will add to my personal portfolio  

What I must work on: 

  • Working to schedule  
  • Audience engagement  
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WHATS NEXT FOR VAR? THE SHORT-TERM FUTURE OF FOOTBALL

For my project I have looked at the current state of technology in sport and in particular, the current state of the video replay system in football. Introduced in 2016, the ‘VAR’ (Video Assistant Referee) was implemented to ensure correct decisions were made. However, because of its implementation, it has brought upon a sense of confusion and longer stoppages in play. Fans are unable to celebrate goals until the VAR has checked it and therefore has had an impact on the overall atmosphere at football games.  The implementation of VAR is affecting the beauty of the game, however, it is also affecting the decisions being made.  

In BBC’s poll which questioned whether the VAR system was improving or ruining the game, 40% of fans answered that the referee system was making football worse. Whilst this provides an accurate glimpse on how the VAR system has been received in Britain, the VAR system has been proven to have increased the correct decisions being made. So, what will football look like in five years’ time? Will there be VAR? Or is it a piece of technology that is inevitably here to stay? 

VAR IS HERE TO STAY

Through studying the media futures subject I have realised that technology is most definitely here to stay. Science Fiction films which study future media predict that technology will be a part of our near and great future, whether it has negative or positive effects towards it. Social effects of technology is seen in films such as Metropolis and Blade Runner. This can connect to the implementation of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as the introduction of the piece of technology has socially divided fans as to whether it is improving or ruining the game. However, as the VAR has been proven to correct more decisions than not, I believe the VAR will remain in the game. Yet this doesn’t mean that the system can be altered and corrected to end all negatives promoted by it.

Using Wendell’s Bell’s elements of future studies, I believe that I can present a projection of the short term future of football as well as possible alternative actions and desirable futures which may come to fruition.

RECENT PAST AND PRESENT STATE OF VAR

In my last blog I provided a summary of the issues of the video assistant referee system in football. Since it’s implementation, issues have arisen from longer and more stoppages in plays, incorrect decisions and increased confusion. I analysed these issues and provided evidence from statistics and fan polls as to why these issues were so significant within football’s fan base. When interpreting the current and past state of the VAR, It’s hard not to make the conclusion that fans believe that it’s ruining rather than improving the game of football.

FUTURE PROJECTION WITHOUT INTERVENTION

With the current reality of football, technology and in particular the ‘VAR’ has created controversy. It has been a significant point of discussion since its implementation, and without intervention, will only continue towards the future. A projected future with the current state of VAR as a system aiming to correct mistakes made in football, is a tumultuous future full of confusion and irritation. As fans, we will have to get used to the fact that football headlines will be directed towards VAR mistakes rather than who scored and who played well. We will lose the overall beauty of football and FIFA will continue to spend money towards new technologies aiming to correct the technologies and softwares already implemented.

A POSSIBLE FUTURE WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY

“Football is all too often a reflection of society, highlighting all the great things while reluctantly baring the ugly truths of its imperfections”.

By implementing the VAR and the softwares which come with it, we have gotten rid of football’s imperfections. Referees have been undermined by match officials who are now reviewing most referee decisions on the field. Yes, correct decisions are being made, however, such imperfections which have been negated, are an aspect of football that we have learnt to love and get used to. A future without technology will allow for football to regain its beauty and will also allow for referees to regain their freedom.

Fans will also be able to watch football without confusion or the possibility to be bothered by any stoppages. This will only make football more attractive to watch and will make it much more popular.

Players will also play with more freedom. With the current nature of the game, legends such as Ronaldo and Messi will diminish. This is an audacious statement to make, however, players of this generation are seemed to be chained by the shackles of technology. Great goals and offsides are being corrected by the shortest of margins. Players simply don’t have the same amount of freedom as they did ten years ago and this will effect the ability for football to produce amazing talent.

On the other hand, as VAR has proven to make more correct decisions, there would be an influx of incorrect decisions being made. There also may be conflict as to whether the game needs technology back. Footballs fans will have to decide whether they would prefer correct decisions being made or the beautiful game back to full form with the possibility of an incorrect decision now and then.

FUTURE PROJECTION WITH INTERVENTION

Due to the implication of the VAR system, speculation towards whether the system is valid and needed is high. Yet, technology will be a key part of our future, not only with how we live our lives, but how we consume our entertainment. My projected short term future involves VAR as a key part of football, even with my comments made above about how it is ruining the beauty of the game.

I do believe there are ways in which football can regain its beauty by alternating the way in which technology identifies mistakes made on the field. Intervention of the VAR can bring a halt to the negatives which are currently at the peak of our game.

PODCAST ON THE TOPIC:

FIFA is already looking to alternate the offside ruling with an automated offside technology which will give an automated and quick ruling of any offside player. Former Arsenal coach and now FIFA’s head of football development, Arsene Wenger, has told the media that FIFA have experimented with automated offside rulings recently and will look to implement this technology in next year’s 2022 world cup. This in itself shows that FIFA is already looking for ways to better current technologies being used.

It is a positive that change is starting to happen. It’s obvious that a large consensus of players, coaches and fans are unhappy with the current use of the VAR system.

OVERALL FIVE YEAR PREDICTION

As said above, I see no option for FIFA and football to withdraw from their current view and use of technology. With the world continuing to change and evolve with technology, sport will be no different. However, as FIFA looks to upgrade the current technology, a positive future for players, coaches and fans can be foreseen. I do not speak for any external factors to technology including football’s economic factors and social factors, however, in regards to football’s future with technology, I see it being utilised into the short term future.

As a fan, I am excited to see what the future of football has for us. A game which we love and show great passion for will always be popular around the world.

JAMES MUGGERIDGE.

A REDIRECTION FOR PERFECTION – THE VIDEO REVIEW SYSTEM IN FOOTBALL

As fans we have fallen in love with the beauty of our sports, and have dealt with the inconveniences which surround itself with these sports. Inconveniences such as referees not blowing the whistle for a clear foul or officials penalising our favourite players for a foul, which we believed, was not a foul. In our sports, whether its at a local or professional grade, we understand that referees make mistakes much like we all do in our daily lives.

However, sports have come to the conclusion that in our society, with the rapid innovation of technologies each year, that imperfection is simply not good enough. Technologies have been implemented to perfect such poor decisions.

Technology has brought upon plenty of beneficial aspects to the world of sport, whether it’s competing or viewing. Athletes are now able to be given objective feedback from their coaches to better their own game as well as the teams overall game. Technology has not only improved performance but has improved the safety of athletes. Athletes have been given better medical care and have been able to recover from their injuries at a faster rate than what they were without technology. Overall, technology has given the ability to pin point issues or problems in sports and has given an outlet to try and fix these concerns. However in an effort to fix these issues, sometimes technology tries immensely hard to perfect the game and thus works towards losing the beauty and intensity of the sports we love.

Welcome to my 2nd blog of my series delving into technology used in sports. This blog will focus on the issues which surround itself with the implementation of technology in football. Certain issues will be raised mainly around the audiences reception and sometimes the imperfection of technologies which overall have the ability to detract from the beauty of the sports we play and watch each day. I will look at an example of the referee review system used in football, the ‘VAR’.

The podcast segment of this blog will list all the current issues with the VAR in football, whilst the written blog segment will provide evidence into why these issues have circulated. Evidence can include the audiences reactions and scholars who have written articles on the topics.

VAR (Video Review System)

Video refereeing systems have been the focal point of discussion around sports for the past decade. Systems such as the VAR, DRS and basketball referral systems were brought in to perfect decisions which are sometimes wrong with the naked eye. However, the introduction of such technologies has only seemed to add confusion and irritation.

In 2016, the new FIFA president Gianni Infantino, introduced VAR and stated that it was “inevitable” that a piece of technology such as the ‘VAR’ would make its way into the world of football. In the modern day, a fan has comes to terms with the consistant need for referees and VAR officials to make apologies after a wrong call from a VAR check. The idea that VAR would be applied and automatically fix all “touch and go” referring decisions was truly a scam.

When introduced tp the premier league, VAR already had its enemies. Five premier league clubs were opposed to the introduction of VAR. However in the 2018/19 season, the system was implemented. Players and coaches had their say as decisions were overturned as the margins of these decisions were so tight and thus left players, coaches and fans irritated and confused.

In my podcast I presented statistics which showed the recent data of VAR decisions. In concluding these statistics, I found that there was an obvious problem with the amount of decisions overturned. Overturning decisions creates a sense of irritation for not only the players and staff, but the fans. Now with the current state of the game, fans cannot truly celebrate without witnessing the VAR check.

In a study conducted by ‘Statista, (providers in marketing and consumer data) it showed the opinion of 1419 people from the British public on how successful the VAR system was in the 2019/20 season. Data showed that 10% of the total surveyed rated VAR a 0 out of 10. The rating with the highest percentage was 3 out of 10 with 15%. This study obviously doesn’t speak for the footballing world, however, it does give a glimpse as to how the VAR has been received in Britain.

In a poll created by the ‘BBC’, it showed that only a third of fans were convinced that VAR was improving the game. On the other hand, 40% of people surveyed said that VAR was ruining the game. BBC sport is one of the leading journalism websites in Britain, therefore, this survey provides a more accurate view of VAR in the English Premier League.

Here are some of the games best ever moments which would’ve been overturned if VAR had a part to play:

“The introduction of goal line technology removes contentious goal line decisions which might influence the match day atmosphere and supporter satisfaction. Even though technology may minimise bad decisions being made, football supporters may actually miss the debate which stem from refereeing decisions and which contributes to the overall experience for football supporters”. – Mathieu Winand, Professor of Sport Management and Head of Department of International Sport Management at LUNEX.

The question which people must ask themselves is whether they want the correct decisions or a fast and free flowing game which isn’t riddled with confusion. A question which I ask myself is if VAR was applied since the start of football, would we even have a game now?

In answering my question, “are we losing the beauty of our games”, I do believe that we are. However, in doing this we have received a 5.5% increase in correct decisions awarded. So whats next for the future of the VAR? This question will answered in my next blog as I will predict the future of football through reference to media futures articles and scholar articles.

JAMES MUGGERIDGE

DA BETA

My DA involves the investigation of technology in sports and whether the continuing innovations of such technologies will detract from the overall beauty of certain sports into the short term future.

My project will consist of:

  • 4 blogs
  • 4 podcasts
  • 1 final video compiling all research and points raised

I have only posted one blog and podcast on an overview of sports technology so far. This would aim to provide a good basis to start my project. I am currently in the works of writing an issues based blog which would look at everything that’s wrong with sports technology and what it could mean for the future.

Something which I didn’t have time to talk about in my Digital Artefact beta was my user feedback. I only posted my first blog on twitter but I intend to share my following blogs and podcasts over a select few other social media platforms. I received plenty of helpful comments on my pitch video which will be applied in my future work for the project.

JAMES MUGGERIDGE

TECHNOLOGY IN SPORT: AN OVERVIEW

My first episode of my BCM325 podcast series regarded an overview and a brief history of the technological use in sport. I discussed my plan for the series as well as delving deep into my overarching question as to whether there is any need for technology in sport if it results in negative outcomes and uproars.

Technology was first used in sport in the form of photo finishing in horse racing. The idea behind implementing photo finishing in horse racing is to provide a clear camera angle (located at the finish line) to pinpoint the winner in a tight finish which cannot be decided by the naked eye. In a sense, this innovation has paved the way to a revolution of not only photo finishing technology, however, technology which can pinpoint a close decision through specific camera angles and technology. Examples of these types of technologies include hawk eye, goal line technology and the use of photo finishing in not only horse racing, but in Olympic sprints.

Sports science technologies were next as they were implemented as a way of reading heart rates and therefore athletic performance. A significant advantage of using such wearable technologies is the fact that it provides a real time analysis from real time performance. It is a convenient way of gaining data straight away and thus providing feedback to the athlete on where they must improve and where there strengths are. Wearable technologies such as sweat analysis are not only used to read data on athletic performance but is a way of preventing any current or future injuries. An example of this is gaining data of an athlete which shows that they have an abnormal heartbeat. Gaining this data allows for the coach or manager to properly administer the right treatment plan to lower the athletes heart rate and continue training.

Sports technology has proved to benefit the world of sports when you look at where certain sports have transformed since their origination.

For example, on a global stage, the Olympics have profited of technology on a significant scale. As mentioned before, the use of photo finishing has significantly made tight decisions much easier. As well as this, the viewing of events such as the 100m race or the hurdles have been made more intense and exciting to watch. Sprint athletes have also benefited off speed guns which show the speed of there races and allow for the goal of continuous progression.

Wearable technologies have benefited performance whether it’s short or long range athletics. Heart rate monitors and the 21st century innovation of the Garmin and Apple watches, have allowed for coaches and athletes to read real-time data from there performances and practices.

Another example of a sport which has made significant progression since its origination is cricket. Cricket begun with the use of a stick and ball. A game which was played as early as 1611 in England Villages. The sport was named a ‘boys sport’ and when looking at the modern game of cricket, this definition has well and truly been eradicated. Bats have become stronger and boundaries have become smaller to suggest that the game is becoming a ‘batsmen’s sport’.

When looking at its technological progression, however, it’s hard to miss the saturation of sports technologies used throughout the game to perfect the overall sport. The stumps are now implemented with a stump mic and there are technologies which pick whether batmen have hit the ball or not (For example, the Snickometer). Hawk-eye can be used to perfect the LBW (leg before wicket) decision, lighted wickets allow for umpires to be notified when the bails have been dismantled and the introduction of the Duckworth Lewis System calculates a team total in the event of an unfortunate circumstance such as bad weather.

When looking at an overview and a brief history of sports, it’s hard to notice any of the negatives which flood the world of sports. However, as sports around the world have now become saturated with technology, there are bound to be negatives and issues which come with it.

In the next blog I will list some relevant and topical issues with specific technologies and debate whether these technologies listed are truly needed in these sports. This will lead to my overall question as to whether technology is damaging the beauty of our game and what needs to be done into the future to stop this.

JAMES MUGGERIDGE

LEARN AND REVISE: DA PEER REVIEWS

The art of divination is a sacred act of predicting an unseen or un-forecasted events. An act which to this day can be applied to foreshadow the possibility of negative occurrences, allowing the ability to act and stop such events. My DA involves divination in some aspect as I must predict, backed up with research, a future which either involves or does not involve the use of technology in sport, to prevent a future which spirals out of control.

With this in mind, I have gained motivation to analyse a selection of sports before and after their technological boom to predict a possible future which includes technology or no technology. This in turn will hope to take out the negatives and issues revolving around the current circumstances, and raise hope for a future of sport which focuses on both the correction of the game and the entertainment factor.

When revising my peers, I have learnt new components of a successful project that I may of missed during my pitch. Divination is one which I will incorporate into my project.

DA 1: Is productivity-improving technology making us less productive? – Emma

The first digital artefact that I will be looking at is Emma’s project on whether productivity-improving apps are improving our productivity or making us less productive.

Emma clearly displays her concept clearly both in the blog and in the pitch. Beginning her pitch with a rhetorical question attracts listeners to feel involved and appeals to the emotions. In terms of utility, her digital artefact is relevant and must be talked about in a modern day society fuelled by the increase of technology aiming improve productivity.

I advised a website portraying the negatives of productivity-improving apps, in particular Tik Tok. I feel like this something which could be utilised to Emma’s advantage for background research.

As well as this, I linked a page on an overview of auto-ethnographic research. Even though we did study this in the previous semester, I thought a refresh on the topic would only benefit her understanding.

Finally, I sourced a Ted talk on the book which Emma is intending on reading as a basis to her digital artefact. This will work to showcase a raw and unedited view from the author Barry Schwartz.

DA 2: The Future of Beyond Branding – Amy

The next pitch I briefed was Amy’s blog on the future of her design company, ‘Beyond Branding’, and where studying BCM325 will take her in the future of her company.

I commended Amy on her ability to set clear and concise goals, something which is significantly key and also something I must work on. As she is using the semester to expand her already successful business, I sourced an article on some tips for conducting an interview.

I also suggested a reading from Wendell Bell called ‘Making people responsible’. The reason for this was to emphasise the importance of looking into the future and as Amy is focusing on the future of her business, I believed this would be an ideal article to read.

DA 3: AR & VR Technology Changing the way we Shop Online – Alicia

Alicia focuses on the future of online shopping, what has been done already and what can be done to better the experience for customers through the use of AR and VR technology.

Alicia’s blog has a great layout, including bold sub-headings which makes the blog easily understandable and personalised designs which creates a sense of individuality. I’ll also add that I was impressed with the ability to include the FIST principle into the digital artefact allowing for the capability for variation.

I recommended an article on the best video essays of 2020 for help on making her video as good as possible. This article mentioned reasons for why the videos were the best which may guide Alicia towards a successful digital artefact final project.

My second recommendation was a YouTube video made by a fashion blog called ‘Electric Runway’. It talks about the impact which AR and VR technology will have on the future for the fashion industry. I thought that this may help as it is created by a fashion author with experience in the field.