This article was written by Canay Atalay and originally appeared in Digital Age Magazine Turkey in September 2017. It was published in English on on the Human Works website.
The Future of Humanism and Sports
In the future, when anything that can be digitised and atomised will be, we will not have to do anything that doesn’t require creativity or critical thinking. While many see this as a threat, I look at it as a great opportunity. With our increased idle time, energy and hopefully consciousness, we can finally focus on real questions like “What is a good life?” “What is meaningful work?”. For better life designs, obviously ‘sports’ has the utmost importance in both individual and social dimensions.
Today, when we are experiencing only tiny pre-waves of the tsunami of exponential technologies, sports should be our focus. We are on the verge of a big social leap towards the futures that human potential deserves. These futures can be our reality first with meaning and experience design, then with the great power of technology.
Before suggesting solutions on how to travel in this exciting time-tunnel, let’s look at a few examples of how technology in sports is impacting our businesses and lives;
‘Good enough’ is not enough anymore
‘Customer experience’, the topic on the top of the agenda of every conscious business leader, is also the most important topic to focus on as ‘fan/audience experience’ in the sports industry. The new generation of fans – who are investing emotions, energy and time into their teams – expect similar experiences from their teams as the best services they use, and their tolerance is gradually decreasing.
In short, ‘good enough’ is no longer enough! Prepare to deliver ‘best’ experiences with your teams and collaborators: take the best social media platforms for social experience as references, and Hollywood levels of creativity for the content in virtual reality.
Eclipse of technologies
It would be misleading to look at the future of sport only within the context of the sports industry or to consider every technological development alone. Major changes often occur often in the merging of several technologies and when different industries trigger changes in each other.
Eco-sports: Stadium buildings and cabinets are undergoing a transformation, with new materials like ultra-light carbon fibre and solar panels. As Pavegen launched in Rio de Janeiro, we can produce solutions for the energy needs of everyone, with applications that generate electricity from every athlete’s footstep on the kinetic carpet field base, while producing new data for their neighbourhood.
As all major automotive companies are implementing examples of driverless cars (that can be sent to the used car dealership), stadiums will no longer need parking spaces and it is possible to use these areas for family entertainment or encourage sports – more stadiums can be built as they take up less space.
If you are tired from the treadmill, you ride with the Tour de France in virtual reality or play 360 degrees with your favourite football team. Widerun, Holodia, Blackbox-vr, FirstV1sion are just a few of these initiatives. With artificial intelligence technology, experiences include receiving personalised mentoring and coaching from the athletes that you admire or tracking your performance with wearable devices like a million-dollar star will turn into ordinary expectations in the future.
In the future, when you can get direct reviews on the platform you choose from sportsmen and experts, you will not need the mass media channels as a mediator. You can see humanoids equipped with artificial intelligence that do not make mistakes like referees, in leagues sponsored by global brands like Google.
With your VR headset, you can watch any sports branch’s game wherever you want, with your favourite contacts in social media, at almost the same level as the stadium enthusiasm. In the leagues of avatars, the best video players in the world will be waiting for your ‘Start’ command with hologram technologies. The question to be asked is: Will such practices be designed to encourage our children to do more sports and to learn better or make them get more addicted to screens and technology?
With Blockchain technology, each league can own its own data, contract and currency systems. This could allow a local and resource-poor club with a sufficiently-engaging mission and story to reach international sports audiences and create new resources with areas such as crowdfunding.
Which team are you supporting; augmented athletes? or naturals?
The athletes will be allowed to use their genetic developments to protect themselves from accidents and ensure their safety. In addition, genetic modifications such as increasing muscle mass, accelerating oxygen delivery, and increasing pain thresholds are being studied to improve performance. How far are decision-makers ready for this technological future, both for the innovation of processes and for their ability to make ethical decisions?
The lines between the artificial and natural body will gradually diminish. As a result of the science and technology that can regenerate the human body, it is expected that different leagues will emerge, such as ‘augmented athletes’ and ‘natural athletes’. The augmented athletes in different leagues who are perfected in the laboratory environment and the natural athletes will encounter in the championship games. Who will you be supporting in such an encounter?
Sports for social innovation
Sports have a mission to create and disseminate role models with good characters for ‘good life’, ‘ethics and morality’ in society. When children are growing up, they are inspired by role models, mainly from family members of three and sometimes four different generations who watch sports together, as well as by sports players and sports leaders in the media.
Today we need role models who inspire and give us hope, both as children and also as adults. For this reason, we have to rise to fair play, sporting spirit, collaboration, responsibility and inclusion values instead of match-fixing, hooliganism, ‘till death’ competition, accusations and only masculine perceptions.
This is the responsibility of all of us, starting with conscious leaders, sponsors, media and parents. As ‘human works design’, we design meaningful innovation initiatives, starting with the leaders on the question of ‘What is our purpose of life?’, that help them future proof their organisations and contribute to a ‘Children First World’ design. You can start innovation with meaning in sports by designing based on universal human values and new future scenarios. Then reflect those meaning and values into brand experience guidelines, business models, technology roadmaps and cultural transformation programs.
Albert Camus, a philosopher who was also a footballer, said once “After many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA.”
Camus was referring to a kind of simple morality he wrote about in his early essays, an ethic of sticking up for your friends, of valuing courage and fair-play. Camus believed that the people in power try to confuse us with convoluted moral systems to make things appear more complicated than they really are, possibly to suit their own agendas. It is possible to liberate ourselves from their influence through ‘sports and sport ethics’ and role models who will spread it to grassroots for many generations to come.
Our societies need sports leaders and role models who are liberated from thinking in old paradigms that no longer serve our desired futures. With the spirit, good values and excitement of sports, triggering action in millions of fans, let’s turn meaningful future designs into today’s reality.