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Hackley athletics begin to incorporate technology

This+Nixon+watch+allows+athletes+to+maximize+their+performance.
This Nixon watch allows athletes to maximize their performance.

This Nixon watch allows athletes to maximize their performance.

This Nixon watch allows athletes to maximize their performance.

By Cole Wyman, Assistant Sports Editor

Technology has revolutionized athletics over the past 50 years. Sports technology has changed player development, player scouting, and broadcasting in professional sports, but on the Hilltop, teams have yet to make full use of modern technology. Athletic director Jason Edwards, sees that, in terms of machinery, technology does not aid team improvement, but rather individual development. And further that our coaches see more of a priority in working as a team than having individuals.
Technology has improved the efficiency of training. At the professional level, sports franchises can now do more things, including tracking the dietary requirements of all their players, using machines like the MVP – a remote controlled tackling dummy, or The Gun, a basketball machine that rebounds and passes the ball back to the shooter, and looking through film from previous games so players can learn from their mistakes. While Hackley coaches do use all of these to a certain extent, the technology is not revolutionizing team sports.
From a broadcasting standpoint, professional sports have been completely modernized with new angles, enhanced zoom, and slow motion capabilities. NBC uses NBCee-it during hockey broadcasts to replay highlights from the game. NBCee-it uses zoom and slow motion to give audiences optimal views of the game. Professional broadcasts have become so entertaining that many fans would rather watch the game on TV than actually attend the game.

Despite Hackley’s resistance to technology in terms of machinery, Hackley is consistently top flight in terms of equipment technology. Each year leading brands in athletics release new helmets or protective padding. Athletes at Hackley are almost always provided with the safest equipment on the market.

Hackley sports teams do not utilize technology to its fullest extent, as the technology available to teams is limited. The basketball teams occasionally use The Gun; however, it is best suited for individual shooting practices.

According to Mr. Edwards, the football team has access to an MVP, a programmed tackling dummy used to simulate tackling a moving object with a minimal risk of concussion. While players have acknowledged that the machine is “cool”, they also commented on its lack of efficiency in a team setting.

Although colleges with an arsenal of MVP dummies use them to improve the way players work as a team, the one machine that Hackley only works on individual tackling techniques one athlete at a time. At Dartmouth – the birthplace of the MVP – and all around the Ivy League, teams have no contact in practices whatsoever and simply use the padded dummies to simulate tackling drills. Edwards claims that Hackley football is having a “trickle down effect” from the collegiate Ivy League in the movement towards no physical contact in practices, the MVP helps that process move along.

Despite technology lending itself better to individual improvement, widespread individual improvement can bolster a team. Aside from a small number of colleges with large athletic budgets, technology is typically used for individual improvement. Hackley athletes use their camaraderie and limited technology available in practice to improve their performance in games.

Nonetheless, athletes who participate in individual sports, like fencing and cross country, or in teams outside of school find better uses for these new devices. Golfer Charlie Hite uses golf simulators to work on his game. “It helps a lot because it gives you a completely accurate feel of your game and tells you some of the specific things you need to work on,” said Charlie.

Enzi Teacher commented that he uses The Gun only during private workouts and finds it effective as it rebounds the ball and dishes it back. Many runners on the cross country team also purchased smartwatches to track workouts and to use GPS navigation to further analyze runs.  

Overall, technology has made significant waves across athletics on all levels. However, the Hilltop remains accustomed to age-old methods of teamwork and camaraderie during practice. But lookout for the opening of the Johnson Health and Wellness Center; there very well may be some exciting new equipment.

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