In 1997, a group of students at Helsinki's University of Art and Design developed NoSport for their year-ending Future Media Home project. NoSport presents a technologically feasible blueprint for a 3-D position recognition system to be used as an interface for home fitness or entertainment. The authors conclude that while exercise will still be hard work, at least they can make it a little more interesting.

Gadgetry aside, the question of what future household media will look like is certainly relevant. But why the title NoSport?

I suspect it has something to do with the solo pursuit of sport. If a kid is in the backyard shooting hoops, she is not playing a sport, but practising the skills required of its associated sport: basketball. Similarly, running by oneself is considered leisure, but if racing against another it becomes the sport of athletics (the irony here is that contestants are actually racing against time rather than each other).

The prerequisite here seems to be an element of competition. NoSport allows users a biophysical sport media experience, so what if the competition is from a computerized opponent? Does this still constitute sport? What if the competition is from a representation of another human opponent networked from elsewhere on the planet? Is this sport?

I think this situation parallels the basketball example above: the former is a practice of the requisite skills necessary for the sport and the latter is virtual sport. Sport philosophers take note: to the laundry list of sport's classification factors add human versus computer-mediated competition.

Virtual sport allows users to experiment with many different sports, with only basic rule understanding and skill acquisition required, and without fear of being a complete jackass for trying. Since the Internet is content-on-demand, kids can check out other sports tomorrow like they would rent a movie today, which is beautiful for the naturally curious.

All of which means that NoSport just might become mo' sport.


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