I'm an admitted sports junky. I'm one of those people who spends too much time watching games, getting updates on ESPN, and so on. Living in the New York metro area, there's never a shortage of sports to watch, either live or on television.
A few incidents that occurred just this week (one to me personally and one to the sport of baseball) put the technology in sports discussion front and center. First was the decision by Major League Baseball (MLB) to incorporate instant replay into its umpiring scheme. Baseball purists are likely at arms with this decision, claiming that the rare missed or wrong call is just part of the game. The opposite argument is obvious: If we have the technology available to ensure that no calls are missed, why wouldn't we take advantage of it?
The missteps that occurred in the National Football League (NFL) set a good example for the MLB. It took the NFL many years to come up with a formula that works. It's not perfect, but it'll never be perfect. It's good enough. Hopefully baseball leaders can come up with something quicker that most people can live with (you'll never please everybody, no matter what).
The personal incident, one that allowed me to cross an item off my bucket list, was attending a baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the hometown Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals. I've been to lots of games in my years and at stadiums in many cities across the country, but this was my first visit to Wrigley.
The thing that was so appealing about this stadium was its lack of technology. Most of the stadium is open-air, and the luxury suites that dominate the newer stadiums were quite reserved (figuratively, not literally). The main scoreboards were manually operated (the operator sits inside the scoreboard, putting up the big numbers as the scores and innings change). And there was no blaring music, subway races, or other annoying nonsense between innings. It was just baseball the way it ought to be.
Then there are countless other ways that technology has not so much improved the game, but benefited the athletes that play the games. For example, the equipment is far improved, including the helmets and various braces worn by football players, as well as the tests performed by doctors to ensure that a player is fit to the return to the field, the court, the diamond, the ice, and so on.
Another huge change in sports is in the field of sports medicine. It truly amazes me to see how quickly an athlete can return from an injury that some years ago would have ended a career. From knees to shoulders to elbows, the advances in arthroscopic surgery are remarkable.
Then there's technology in golf. To see modern golfers hit the ball as far as they do is clearly the result of a combination of better equipment in their hands and better equipment in their gyms. The only aspect I can't figure out is why all this great technology isn't improving my golf game.