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Have advancements in technology crossed an ethical line? | Embracing Technology

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Posted in: All other conversations about technology

Have advancements in technology crossed an ethical line?

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  • Blake

    Where do you draw the line on advancements in technology that can lead directly to enhancing athletic performance? I’d love to get your feedback.

    Using technology as a performance tool is big business because it can mean the difference between success and failure on the biggest of stages. Even at amateur level, sports coaches are encouraged to embrace technology in all its forms to improve learning, training and deliver performance gain.

    At elite level, technology drives advancements in equipment and kit design, and it provides valuable and complex data that can be extracted, analysed, interpreted and assimilated to determine coaching strategy and tactics, shape training methods and ultimately improve performance.

    As long as these innovations sit within permitted rules and regulations then their performance-enhancing potential is accepted.

    But the line between permitted technological improvements and ‘unfair advantage’ is becoming greyer by the day.

    Technology has an indirect effect on performance, you might argue, while performance-enhancing dietary supplements or drugs alter the biological functions of the athlete, which has a direct and more drastic effect on improving performance.

    But what about technology that does impact on the physiological and neurological processes of the body, and which boasts to delivering results that could significantly improve performance?

    Like this performance-enhancing ‘brain hacking’ headset that I read about in the Times and which ‘top American athletes’ are using to learn muscle movements? What are the ethics of transforming the brain into such a hyper-flexible state?

    What do you think?


  • Coach_Browning

    A really interesting topic... There are lots of variations of this around at the moment. Be it... Trans athletes dominating female sports and its backlash... or ... Michael Phelps having a biological advantage over competitors

    As can be seen from some of the articles there is a lot of strong opinions being thrown around, and there is a lot of talk about what is 'fair' or not. 

    Should Michael Phelps have been banned from competing? He clearly had an advantage over pretty much everyone. 

    But to come back to the question here - at least with Phelps it was natural. His body wasn't artificially enhanced in any direct way (that I am aware of)

    ...and this is the crux I think of the problem. 

    The whole point of coaching is to alter an athlete to perform better. The difference between this and drugs is, as noted, that coaching is indirect. Taking a PED leads to a direct result, but with coaching there is the notion that the development isnt automatic. There is a gap between coach and athlete, with the better coaches arguably able to make that gap as small as possible. 

    If you move the coaching to being a direct process where that gap between coach and player is removed, then I think that you have to ask the question of how different is that to a PED? And that is a question I dont think we are ready for yet!

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