Watching the Olympics made me think some more about all the improvements technology has given sports. Clearly, there were the down sides of technology being used in sports (remember that horrible blue glowing puck that turned into a red streak if there was a slap shot?), but for the most part I appreciate what they’re able to do to make the viewer’s experience more enjoyable.
I’ve talked to people who don’t like the yellow line signifying the first down in football or the line indicating the line of scrimmage, but I think these are wonderful and make it so much easier to tell whether the player got the first down or not. The markers on the sidelines can’t be seen from many camera angles, but the lines are very clear and can be seen any time a player is near the line of scrimmage or first down. What’s not to like?
In the Olympics, there have been many advances. The flags in the pool and track & field lanes showed up in the last Summer Olympics (or perhaps in Sydney). It’s so nice to see at the start of each race which lanes are occupied by swimmers/runners/rowers of each country and to see which country is ahead every time they reach a turn in the pool. Of course, seeing the flags as each swimmer or boat end the race with the 1, 2, & 3 by them popping up as they finish is very nice. You immediately know who got the gold, silver, and bronze medals in the race without having to wait for the results to show up in the complete list.
This year’s addition of the world record time line in swimming was greatly appreciated. Each time Michael Phelps and the many others broke world records, you could see how much they were ahead of the line. It made the races more exciting, since it was often clear who was going to win. Not all of the races were as close as the 4×100 relay when Lezak had his amazing finish or the 400m butterfly race where it looked like Phelps might not get the 8 for 8 gold medals he aimed to attain. The ones that weren’t were made more interesting by seeing the world record pace line chasing the swimmers (or the swimmers chasing it).
I do wonder why a world record line could not be used for the track world records. I’d love to see that line going around the track as the races are going on. I realize that initially the lanes are staggered, but I’d think that they could do a diagonal line or just do a straight line that approximates where the world record would be (have it in line with the time for the middle lane, perhaps). Hopefully, this will be something they add in the London Summer Olympics of 2012.