Technological Failure: Considering Sport and Exercise

Play… sport will be more important than ever in the 21st century because of technological innovations. This is the essence of a premise that Drew Hyland, professor of philosophy at Trinity College, shared with his Philosophy of Sport class in the mid-nineties. He was working off the premise that great technological innovations will make us more efficient and create luxuries of free time that we could commit to play. He was right in that play is more important than ever in this century. However I do not believe its importance is not due to technology, bit rather in spite of technology.

Technology has and continues to change our lives each day. The ability to swap messages across time zones instantly, to do more work faster, and to analyze information in a matter of seconds is a matter of fact rather than science fiction. Keyboards are working their ways towards obsolescence, the internet is accessible anytime and anyplace, and walking a city sidewalk without eyes locked on a mini, personal computer screen is a thing of the past. Innovative technology has had grand impacts on our lives since the above ideas were shared in the liberal arts classroom in Hartford, Connecticut. Technology however has not expanded our time and opportunities for play.

Technology has expanded our need for play… physical activity… sport.

Like an animal in Skinner’s box unable to resist the potential treats, many humans cannot escape the blinking red announcement light on their Blackberry. After “work hours,” during weekends, while on holiday, in the midst of baptisms, weddings, and funerals the glow of the IPhone display lures like a siren.

Yes, these are valuable tools for personal communication and hold many recreational apps, but they still lack the insight to turn off when their proud owners need to turn off. Facebook inundates the workplace while our workplace inundates our weekends. The machines, our stress reducers have too often become our stress inducers. No longer can today’s problem be healthily avoided. No more can the international news of the day be lost when vacationing.

This is where play has become more important than ever. Yes, if active enough (i.e. too sweaty for an earpiece and too action oriented for reading 4 pt font and typing with thumbs) it is a sure escape from e-mails, texts, and all the rest. More so perhaps it combats some unfortunate technological creations… stress and lack of connectedness at an in the flesh human level. As simply stated by psychology of exercise expert Michael Otto, “Exercise works for your mood.” Play takes us off the ongoing roller coaster of good e-mails, bad e-mails, and junk e-mails. Furthermore any team sport (or individual sport team (i.e. running and cycling)) provides opportunities for genuine connectedness – relationships built out of fun, struggle, support, and mutual sharing.

The idea of technology giving us time for play is a wonderful one. There is no doubt it has made us more efficient. Yet rather than rest, we do more because we can do more. Perhaps play gets lost in the shuffle. Because of technology, play is more important than ever… find it and embrace it.

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1 Response to “Technological Failure: Considering Sport and Exercise”


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