Can Technology Replace Translators and Allow Seamless Watching of Sports Events?

November 16, 2021

Do you feel that so many things get lost in translation while watching sports events? There is a general idea that technology will one day solve this problem and make real-time translation possible without the help of human translators. But is it really doable? That is exactly what we are going to discuss here.

The idea is not anything new because humans have always dreamt of a world where some form of technology could evade the language barrier. In fact, it was as early as 1947 when the idea of replacing translation with machines first came into being. As you continue enjoying the matches, let’s discuss the future of languages in sporting events.

Future of technology and translations in sports events

Consumer-level translation technology is becoming popular

Language has always been a hurdle whenever we talk of the international space, especially in sports events. Take any random match in the history of sports that wasn’t in your native language, and you will understand how your viewing experience was hampered just because you didn’t speak the tongue. In fact, even if we are to keep sports aside, you will find videos across all genres becoming popular in the online world, that hail from different parts of the globe. People are now even taking language lessons from instructors over Zoom. So, with the growing demand for learning new languages, various consumer-level translation technology is being worked upon. But there is a difference between what professional translators can do compared to technology.

Professional translation is not limited to word replacement alone

There are obviously certain instances where technology cannot replace professional translation. You don’t require much to say simple sentences or translate them from one language to another. But when it comes to some complicated sports commentary, would some technology suffice? Wouldn’t you want to hear it from an expert speaking your native language? Different tasks of varying complexity require different degrees of language knowledge that technology might not be able to fulfill.

When it comes to fundamental conversations in day-to-day life, where overcoming the language barrier becomes a priority, apps like Google Translate do prove to be fruitful. But when it comes to something as big as a sports event, translation technology might fall short of explaining the complexities. For example, a specific type of penalty kick might have different names across the world. Sporting terminology often changes from one country to another. Whatever translator you use, be it human or technological, they will have to know the terms of specific sports-related content so that the same meaning is conveyed irrespective of the language they speak.

Literal translation, which is often the method adopted by technology, can lead to some funny results that can occasionally be disastrous. They fail to convey the exact meaning. In fact, an academic medical setting tested this idea in the year 2019. They found that Google Translate can get only 92% of the sentences right. However, 2% of the sentences were translated incorrectly, which could even have led to the patient being harmed severely. If we think about the same thing in sport, a single wrong translation could have severe repercussions.

Even if we assume that technology has been able to translate a sentence accurately word-by-word, it won’t be sufficient to maintain communication. Communication is more than just basic words – it is about connecting and relating to the other person, which is impossible with technology-based translation. If a machine-oriented translation has to be fit for the real world, then it will have to unlearn several word usages to fit the emotional context of the audience.

For now, it is safe to say that technology does not have the accuracy to take over the role of a translator in a sports event, or even appeal to the audience’s emotions.

Can technology offer a frictionless experience of watching sports events Even when there is a need for translation?

Direct translation solutions might seem exciting to people for now, but are they truly a way forward as far as sports events are concerned? Well, they definitely play a massive role in bridging the language gap. It feels good to think of a world where you can watch all the sports events in the world without worrying about any communication barriers. In reality, however, things are vastly different. Language has a lot to do with phraseology and tone of voice, which are not possible with technology.

You will lose the essence of the sports events if the communication does not take into consideration the subtleties of human interaction. When word-for-word translations come into existence, you lose the appreciation for nuance and context.

Technological translation solutions might feel like the ‘quick fix’ for now, but in sports events, where the accuracy of interpretation takes the upper hand, it might not be the best solution. Misunderstandings and miscommunications with the audience can lead to grave consequences.


All in all, technology can still find its way into the world of translation if it considers everything mentioned above and something comes up that has a way of dealing with all the drawbacks. With the rise of so many global tournaments, sports translation is becoming an essential aspect of every passing day. It also goes without saying that translation technologies are undergoing upgrades every year and have become more nuanced – credits go-to machine learning!

But automating the process of translation completely is not something that will happen in the near future, because humans are excellent when it comes to showing their creativity. Translation technology’s future rests entirely upon the hands of artificial intelligence. The success of conducting various sporting events rests upon the ability of the organizers to connect and communicate with the fans worldwide, the primary requisite of which is a proper translation, and thus, sporting materials have to be translated to the audience’s local language.


You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}