Is there Too Much Data in the Olympics?

Copy-of-Athlete-Workloads-2.pngAnalytics measuring athlete performance – Image by Kitman Labs/GeekWire

Are you kidding me, Laura? What kind of blog title is that? Don’t be so ridiculous. There’s no such thing as too much data ever! This is a data blog after all, you might say, so bring on the information because I am reading this and I’m a data geek too.

Last week I talked about torch data during the Rio Olympics. This week I wanted to look at some of the ways data is used to increase athlete performance and thus influences the Olympiad Games. A recent BBC article talked about a database that monitors 2,000 Australian athletes each week, augmented reality smart glasses that the U.S. cyclist team uses for real-time data and software that the German sailing team uses to train and perform better. There is so much more Olympic athletes and coaches are measuring during the 2016 games.

GeekWire featured an article last week discussing how Ireland’s field hockey team is using data analytics from biometric measurement technology to minimize player’s injuries. The analytics looks at athlete sleep, hydration, diet, mood, stress and perceived muscle soreness data to help the coaching staff make training decisions and even adjust workouts. I would expect skepticism in using data analytics to improve athlete performance  as the field is still unknown and somewhat undervalued. Let’s keep an open mind about data in the Olympics for now at least.

There’s a promising future for all of this data to improve athlete performance but still some ethical questions surrounding data and technology access and fairness. Should all athletes be allowed to use as much technology and data as they can to be the best they can be? Data alone won’t make the Olympics any better, but it might just make breaking more Olympic records possible.


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