Inside ‘Sport, Ethics and Leadership’: Technology in Sports

November 10th, 2017 | by Jeffrey R. Mitchell
Inside ‘Sport, Ethics and Leadership’: Technology in Sports


The conclusion to one of the most thrilling World Series in recent memory resulted in the Houston Astros claiming the franchise’s first world title.  With a postseason record 104 home runs hit, pundits have suggested that the post-season baseballs, and especially the balls used in the World Series, were “juiced” or “slick.”  Maybe it was the unusual heat in Los Angeles or that the games in Houston were played in a climate controlled setting.  Maybe this is what happens when the best two teams face each other with a championship on the line.  Maybe Houston groomed and trained better players.  In any event, exploring the relationship between athletes, their equipment, and their training leads to a fascinating look at the ethics of technology in sport.   

Included in Sport, Ethics and Leadership, which was released in July 2017, is an examination of the ethics associated with technology and the role technology plays in sport. Co-authors include Santa Clara University Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations, Jeff Mitchell; sport ethics scholar Jack Bowen; sports attorney Ron Katz; former Santa Clara University law school dean Don Polden; and sports agent Rick Walden.

CollegeAD continues to run a series of excerpts from the book.  Written by Jeff Mitchell, this week’s excerpt comes from the book’s thirteenth chapter, “The Ethics of Technology in Sport.”  


Many sports develop from a relatively simple formula: state the objective of the game, define the rules, pick teams, schedule an event, and play ball.  For example, nothing more is needed in baseball than players, a field, a bat, a ball, and a glove.  In a foot race, what adds value other than a starting point and a finish line?  

Despite this simplicity, the idea of continuous improvement pervades the sporting landscape.  How can one hit a ball farther?  How much faster can one run? With increased focus on gaining competitive advantages, modern day athletes look to cutting-edge training methods to become faster and stronger. Athletes test the limits of physical potential as it relates to success in sport and continually set new records throughout the sporting world.  Such testing can raise ethical questions about fair play.

Although many athletes can achieve these accomplishments through their own skills, developing technology also has played a notable role in improving the quality of athletic performance and in perfecting the sport fans love. For example, improvement in the development and the function of training equipment and athletic apparel contributes to competitive success. Increased precision of in-game technology more fairly governs the games that athletes play.  Medical advancements help athletes and coaches understand more about the capabilities of the human body, and creative technology enhances fan enjoyment of sporting events.  Gaining traction in technology circles, virtual reality offers compelling and attractive content, particularly with sports, because the technology allows athletes the capability to practice without submitting to high intensity training and allows fans to experience action from all angles and perspectives of a game.  

In the 21st century, sport continues its vast popularity, but at what price?  The market for sport in North America alone is valued at close to $70 billion.  Is the objective to win founded on the desire to be the best or based upon greed for more money?  Are traditional athletic skills being compromised or diluted by advanced technology? What is responsible for improved athletic performance? Does raw athletic talent combined with training make an athlete successful, or does improved technology associated with the athlete’s modern equipment? Could the advancement in technology enable athletes to gain an unfair competitive advantage?  From which ethical frameworks can these questions be answered?


You can pick up a copy of Sport, Ethics and Leadership and save 20%* plus free shipping at To apply your discount, enter FLR40 in your shopping cart.

*This offer expires November 30, 2017, and only applies to print book orders placed via

Jeffrey R. Mitchell About Jeffrey R. Mitchell
Jeffrey R. Mitchell is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at Santa Clara University. With a diverse background in intercollegiate athletics administration, Mitchell has experience directing units responsible for revenue generation, media relations and communications, ticketing and marketing, academic support, business operations, and NCAA compliance. A four-year collegiate baseball player, Mitchell earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Business Administration from Millsaps College. He also earned a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

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