ASU's Emerge festival to explore what sports will look like in 2040, from games to gear to new philosophies that will rule the arena
The chairs of the wheelchair rugby players look like they were buried in a rockslide: nicked, scratched, dented and dinged. The wheels are black and red, scarred and splintered as a Viking shield.
The players are quick. Nick Springer darts in and out of openings, pivoting and reversing in an eye blink. He is a quadruple amputee. He is one of the fastest men on the court.
On the court they slam into each other with impacts that blast the gym. If two of these chairs came together on your ankle at full force, they’d snap it in two. They hit that hard.
They are man melded with machine. They are the future, now. Since double amputee Oscar Pistorius won the fight to compete in the Olympics against people without disabilities, athletes with prosthetics will become more and more common. Future sports won’t be a battle of humans vs. robots, but natural vs. enhanced athletes, researchers say.
The future of human enhancement in sport is part of Emerge 2016: “The Future of Sport 2040,” an event sponsored by Arizona State University to imagine what fitness and competition will look like in the decades to come.
The three most popular sports of the 1920s were baseball, horse racing and boxing. What will be their equivalents in 2040? Quidditch on hoverboards? Smart balls? Low-G sport on Mars? If concussions and other serious injuries are eliminated, will athletes seek out sports with danger, a la the Hunger Games? About 20 features at Emerge will ponder these questions and more — such as how these changes will affect the human experience.
The free family-friendly event will feature a mix of athletic, artistic and scientific explorations, including the rise of eSports (picture a stadium full of people watching players battling in a video game, like an ASU team’s recent win at a national gaming tournament), gadgets and gear that will enhance performance — and that event goers will be able to try out — and interactive sports.
“We’re the biggest, smartest and most interesting festival that brings together artists, scientists, roboticists, athletes, cancer specialists, storytellers, technologists, ethicists and engineers,” said founding co-director Joel GarreauGarreau is the Professor of Law, Culture, and Values in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and an affiliate faculty member in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “Imagine we are introducing you to a person from the future.”