Smithsonian Institution CFP: Sports Technology and Innovation Symposium

In Game Changer (2017), Rayvon Fouché argued that modern sports have been radically transformed by scientific and technological advances in materials, training, nutrition, and medicine. Indeed, from elite professionals to recreational “weekend warriors,” sports technologies can make the difference between victory and defeat, safety and injury, participation and exclusion. Moreover, athletes regularly engage in “user innovation” (von Hippel, 2006) to develop advanced technologies for their own benefit. Meanwhile, players’ unions, sports federations, and fans collectively influence whether certain sports technologies are widely adopted, regulated, or rejected.
To further explore these ideas, the organizers invite proposals for a forthcoming symposium titled “Sports Technology and Innovation.” The symposium will examine the different motivations that inspire inventors to develop game-changing technologies, their creative processes, and the often-surprising sources of their ideas. It will investigate the high-tech apparel, protective gear, adaptive prostheses, medical advances, officiating technologies, AI algorithms, and training equipment that infuse all modern sports. The organizers will also explore how athletes, coaches, and general managers engage in non-technological innovation when they introduce new training regimens, “bodily techniques,” (Loland, 1992) and front office strategies. The symposium will examine the social and cultural reception of sports technologies, the passionate debates they spur, and the myriad ways they change the games, for better and worse. Finally, the organizers will explore different approaches to the assessment, regulation, and governance of sports technologies and examine why game-changing innovations are ultimately adopted or rejected.
The organizers are interested in original, unpublished research that is conceptually informed and historically framed addressing the above and related topics. The organizers invite paper proposals that span a wide variety of time periods, geographies, and sports. The organizers welcome proposals from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including all subfields of kinesiology, the sport humanities and social sciences, sport management, physical culture studies, public health, history, science & technology studies, technology management/entrepreneurship, sociology, anthropology, economics, communications, media studies, and ethics. Besides academics and scholars, the organizers also invite paper proposals from practitioners, i.e., the inventors, scientists, engineers, coaches, athletes, and officials who have advanced and regulated innovations in sports.
New Deadline for proposals: May 15, 2024: Interested participants should visit to upload a short proposal, written in English, containing a 1-page paper abstract followed by a 1-page CV or short bio. Selected symposium presenters will be notified in early June and should pre-circulate a written version of their conference papers by October 7, 2024. The symposium is planned as an in-person event on October 21-22, 2024, but will adopt a virtual format if necessary. In addition to the paper presentations, participants will tour the Lemelson Center’s new bilingual sports technology exhibition, Change Your Game / Cambia Tu Juego and learn more about the forthcoming companion volume, Inventing for Sports (2024). The Lemelson Center will provide all selected symposium participants with travel to Washington, DC, hotel accommodations, and meals. The symposium organizers are planning to develop an edited volume or special journal issue (e.g., Sport History, International Journal of the History of Sport, History and Technology, or similar) from a selection of revised conference papers. The program committee is comprised of Eric S. Hintz (Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution), Tolga Ozyurtcu (University of Texas, Austin), Matt Bowers (University of Texas, Austin), and Rachel S. Gross (University of Colorado Denver). Questions? Please contact Tolga Ozyurtcu ( or Eric S. Hintz (