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Game Changer

The Technoscientific Revolution in Sports

We like to think of sports as elemental: strong bodies trained to overcome height, weight, distance; the thrill of earned victory or the agony of defeat in a contest decided on a level playing field. But in Game Changer, Rayvon Fouché argues that sports have been radically shaped by an explosion of scientific and technological advances in materials, training, nutrition, and medicine dedicated to making athletes stronger and faster. Technoscience, as Fouché dubs it, increasingly gives the edge (however slight) to the athlete with the latest gear, the most advanced training equipment, or the performance-enhancing drugs that are hardest to detect.

In this revealing book, Fouché examines a variety of sports paraphernalia and enhancements, from fast suits, athletic shoes, and racing bicycles to basketballs and prosthetic limbs. He also takes a hard look at gender verification testing, direct drug testing, and the athlete biological passport in an attempt to understand the evolving place of technoscience across sport.

In this book, Fouché:

• Examines the relationship among sport, science, and technology
• Considers what is at stake in defining sporting culture by its scientific knowledge and technology
• Provides readers and students with an informative and engagingly written study

Focusing on well-known athletes, including Michael Phelps, Oscar Pistorius, Caster Semenya, Usain Bolt, and Lance Armstrong, Fouché argues that technoscience calls into question the integrity of games, records, and our bodies themselves. He also touches on attempts by sporting communities to regulate the use of technology, from elite soccer’s initial reluctance to utilize goal-line technology to automobile racing’s endless tweaking of regulatory formulas in an attempt to blur engineering potency and reclaim driver skill and ability. Game Changer will change the way you look at sports—and the outsized impact technoscience has on them.

About the Author

Rayvon Fouché is director of the American Studies Program and an associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University. He is the author of Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davidson.


"A distinctive and important contribution to the histories of sports, bodies, and technology. Game Changer is a timely book by a proven scholar."

- Carroll Pursell, author of From Playgrounds to PlayStation: The Interaction of Technology and Play

"Informative, engaging, and well-written, Game Changer deftly reveals that the impact of technoscience on sports has never been greater."

- Eric A. Hall, author of Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era

"Sport is increasingly impacted by sophisticated science, technology and medicine. Drawing upon a wealth of examples, Rayvon Fouché takes us through the good, the bad, and the ugly of how technoscience has changed sport. With its attention to the detail of juiced balls, drugged riders, and sports shoes that can send you leaping higher than Michael Jordan, this is a book sports fans and people interested in the history and sociology of technology will find hard to put down."

- Trevor Pinch, author of Entanglements: Conversations on the Human Origins of Science, Technology and Sound, Cornell University

"A well-researched and well-written book on the impact of technoscience on sporting communities and sporting cultures. Fouché convincingly challenges long-held narratives about the relationship between technoscience and sport. He offers a first-rate start to an urgently needed debate about the limits of technoscience in sport."

- Hans-Joachim Braun, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, and co-editor of Playing with Technology: Sports and Leisure

"A smart and compelling analysis of the tensions produced by the increasingly significant role technoscience performs in organized sports. Fouche artfully reveals such tensions about the impact of fastsuits and other advancement in equipment or in gender verification testing are in fact products of long-standing questions, whether it is the body or the machine, and the efforts of different sporting public (fans, governing bodies, athletes) to advance their own claims about the meaning of performance."

- Adrian Burgos, author of Cuban Star: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball, University of Illinois

"The marvels of high tech gear, performance-enhancing drugs, drag-reducing fabrics, computerized biometrics -- all these devices and more are rapidly transforming the world of sports. For players, coaches and fans, the quest to fathom what such exotic innovations offer and what they mean on the field of play is now a daunting challenge. As boundaries between the natural and artificial, fairness and cheating, health and injury, even between female and male are blurred, questions about who won, who lost, and why often have highly uncertain answers. Rayvon Fouche brings to his inquiry the intellectual skills of a historian, discerning eye of a cultural critic and sensibilities of an accomplished sportsman (which he is). His book offers new ways to understand and enjoy the games we love."

- Langdon Winner, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, author of The Whale and the Reactor


"Mr Fouché makes important points about sport’s growing grey areas"

- The Economist

"The text is an interesting exploration into the obsession with sports and the influence of what the author calls the "technoscientific revolution." There is no discussion of the specific science and technology that undergird the tremendous changes. Recommended. all readers."

- Choice

"Game Changer offers a fine introduction to complex questions raised by the application of science and technology to athletic competition. Where does the athlete stop and the technology begin? This and a host of other issues should spark debate in upper-division and graduate courses in sociology, ethics, American Studies, and sports history."

- The History Teacher

"Game Changer is not an easy read. The analysis and arguments are delivered in all of their complexity. The use of technical language and academic jargon will put off many non-specialists, but if you have the patience to slog through those passages, you will be rewarded. This is an important and thought provoking book and sheds light on the past, while anticipating the future technological leaps that will further blur the line between the athlete and the performance."

- New York Journal of Books

"Fouche’s Game Changer provides important and original insights and understandings and is highly recommended reading for scholars within the social sciences and humanities of sport and of technoscience, and, more generally, for all those with an interest in the current status and future of sport."

- Metascience
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421421797 : game-changer-fouche
272 Pages
$29.95 USD
9781421421810 : game-changer-fouche
Electronic book text
272 Pages
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Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation

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