Thursday, April 11, 2013

technology and sport

The conference I am attending is winding down.  It has been about using new technology to enhance education and implementing on-line courses and programs.  It has been illuminating.  I've learned about new technologies and best practices.  I've a new vocabulary--often acronyms--and met vendors who are offering services that I would not have thought are available.  Also, implicitly, and sometimes explicitly--hazards of new technology in education have been identified. Implicitly, in that nearly every session that I attended that relied on technology to explain new technology had some failure of technology that impeded and retarded the progress of explaining the value of the new technology.  Still, on balance, there is a need to explore and examine how to use on-line learning to complement conventional learning.

When yesterday's sessions ended about 6 pm Pacific time, I went down to watch the end of the Red Sox game.  The Sox led 5-3 going into the ninth.  The closer came in and gave up a homer to the first batter. 5-4.  He then got two quick outs.  With two strikes on the next batter, the Oriole hitter fisted a seeing eye single between third and short.  The pitcher walked the next hitter.  The Red Sox were still ahead 5-4, first and second, two outs.  The next batter worked the count to 3 and 2.  One strike away from a victory. The pitcher then threw a beautiful pitch on the inside corner, strike three.

Except it wasn't., The umpire called it a ball.  The replays showed that the pitch was a strike. Not a subjective call. It was in the strike box.  Still the umpire called it a ball. The pitcher glared in at the ump and then shook his head incredulously.

Bases loaded.  Next pitch traveled about forty feet as opposed to the 60 feet 6 inches. It bounced away from the catcher and the tying run came in.  Next pitch was a meatball that the batter hit to the moon.  Red Sox lose 8-5.

What about new technology.  In tennis a machine can determine if a ball is in or out, in football a machine is used to assess the legitimacy of a touchdown.  Why not in baseball?  That was strike three in the Red Sox game as even a primitive machine could determine.  In the same way that technology can enhance education, can't technology impove our game.

Not so fast.  I like the Red Sox, but I think you have to be careful when employing technology in sport.  I find, for example, the replays in college football enough for me to change the channel during games.   The capabilities of new technologies, in sport, like in education, should be used not simply because they can be used.  The question to ask is will the effect of using new technology--recognizing all of the limitations-- enhance the overall objective of the activity.   When you fall in love with technology you sometimes overlook limitations that surface subsequently and undermine the ostensible value of the tool.

No comments:

Post a Comment