Accepted Paper:

Integrating Science and Technology into Sports: A Case Study of Sports Innovations in Belgium  


Michiel Van Oudheusden (KU Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how science and technology (S&T) are enrolled into sports. Three field studies in Belgium are presented to illuminate how S&T-driven sports innovations raise ethical, legal, and social concerns about sports governance, athlete welfare, and the value of intuition in training.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the dynamic interplay between sports and innovation policies, research and development processes, and science-driven sports practices in Wallonia and Flanders (Belgium). Here, as in other countries and regions, the aim of integrating science and technology into sports is now a leading sports policy principle and innovation strategy. Building on science and technology studies (STS) tools and methods (vision assessment, multi-site ethnography, foresight), the paper draws out the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) induced by the use of new sciences and technologies in sports. These ELSI include the client-centered nature of sports science, which raises concerns about occupational control and athlete welfare, the uptake of genetic data in sports talent detection programs, and the challenges of coordinating "data-driven" and "intuitive" sports training approaches. It is argued that as sports are scientized and technologized, such ELSI demand to be addressed by sports innovators, governing bodies, and publics. By drawing critical attention to how sports are increasingly shaped by devices, data flows, and scientists, the paper states the case for bringing sports into STS and STS into sports.

Panel T095
Sport, Technoscience, Medicine and Performance