February 04, 2002

Frictionless glass fabric. In-suit oxygen. Spring-loaded speed skates. The Washington Post Service asks: Are the Olympics still "pure sport" when expensive new technology isn't available to all countries?

posted by rcade to other at 06:23 PM - 11 comments

I have to say, I hate the Olympics, and this is just another reason. It's clearly an unfair competition if some athletes have access to high-tech performance enhancing gear and others don't. They should go back to the days of doing the Olympics nekkid. Everybody would have access to the same, er, equipment, and just think of the ratings! Oh, and I hate the Olympics because of the over-politicization demonstrated by the US and USSR's skipping the Olympics in each other's countries in the 80s, the admission of professional athletes, and the hyper-nationalization and over-commercialization of the Games since the 80s. I blame Reagan.

posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 PM on February 04, 2002

The Olympics haven't been "pure sport" since they allowed professional athletes to participate. Or since they sued everyone who dared use the word "Olympic" in their business name (I'd say Greek restaurants have as much a right to that name as the IOC).

posted by kindall at 11:45 PM on February 04, 2002

The NBA equivalent would be one team having Flubber, an unfair advantage over everyone. What happens when we get cyborgs? That's my question.

posted by owillis at 11:51 PM on February 04, 2002

We won't give the cyborgs condoms, that's for sure.

posted by thebigpoop at 11:55 PM on February 04, 2002

Oh, and before I get dinged for it, I know all about Adolf Hitler's politicization of the 1936 Olympics (although this article has some cool tidbits, like the 1936 games attracted more countries and more visitors than any previous Olympics). But I think we can all agree that the less we act like Nazis, the better.

posted by kirkaracha at 12:12 AM on February 05, 2002

The Olympics have never been completely fair, in the same way that no competition with people from all over the place can be made completely fair. The Haves have always had the edge over the Have Nots. I'm not saying it's fair or even right, but it definitely isn't new. And actually, we should give the cyborgs condoms. Hey, every edge counts.

posted by chicobangs at 01:08 AM on February 05, 2002

Sure, its always been so that there are Have'rs and Have Not'ers, but wouldn't this be the arena to try to even the playing field resources and technology-wise? So we can strive toward as equal a playing field as possible, so what determines the winner is the quality of the athlete in mind and body, and the quality of the coaching? So only human resources are unequal? For an event like the Olympics, that are ostensibly held only for the sake of "high ideals," couldn't we ignore standard economics on a small scale? And for those of you crazy enough to agree: since we don't want to take a step backwards, how would we allow, say, Zaire's long distance speed skaters compete with the rest of the world's?

posted by thebigpoop at 02:57 AM on February 05, 2002

Have we learned nothing from Rocky IV? How could a superior Russian with every training tool imaginable (including Brigitte Nielsen) lose to an aging champion who runs through the snow while tailed by a KGB car? It's called Heart, bitches.

posted by ttrendel at 04:06 AM on February 05, 2002

Yes, ttrendel, "If I can, and you can change, everybody can change." ------------- The ever "since they allowed professional athletes to participate" argument is suspect. Countries that do not have professional leagues send their "professional-like" athletes. At least this used to be the case during the Cold War. Thus, you would have 18-year-olds playing against 33-year-olds. Maybe the Olympics should have age limits (something that I probably wouldn't support). ------------- Track and field, save the steroids, is about as pure as it gets. The first one across that line wins. Ready, set, go. This may explain why champion long distance runners do not always hail from the weathiest countries.

posted by jacknose at 10:42 AM on February 05, 2002

i think it's clear, in many sports, that the biggest competitive advantage is access to classes of drugs (and/or masking agents) that enhance performance but aren't detected by the tests.

posted by lescour at 11:54 AM on February 05, 2002

I remember Bonnie Blair complaining about clap-skates at the Nagano Olympics. Rather than sounding wise, she sounded like a whiner who didn't want her world records broken. Technology in sports is not new. Downhill ski races have been determined for years by the talents of the ski waxers. The pole vault was revolutionized by fiberglass poles. Then again, as the article says, Kenyan runners continue to dominate without bells and whistles. If the equipment conforms to the rules of the sport, and if it's made available to athletes according to the rules of the sport (some of the technologies in this article aren't), I don't have a problem with it. Athletic talent will generally win out. I'm more concerned that an athlete can get DQ'd for taking cold medicine, or worse, that an athlete can get DQ'd for someone slipping cold medicine into his meal.

posted by neuroshred at 10:18 PM on February 05, 2002

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