Breaking World Records with Technology Is Cheating

Today, Wired ran an interesting, if short, spot on the role of technology in Olympic competition especially the breaking of world records.  Berthelot, the man that ran the study, argues that without technological advances we are hitting peak performance already.  He especially contrasts track and field and swimming.  In track and field where technology has been rather static, not much happens aside from a few freak performers like Usain Bolt.  In swimming where new technology has been rapidly advancing in the types of suits competitors are allowed to wear, records have been falling like crazy.  My question is doesn’t it miss the point to keep adding technology to allow world records to be broken?  Are we really getting faster?  Or are we just using performance enhancers to show the illusion of getting faster?

For me, I’d rather enjoy very few freak performances and know that the performers are truly great rather than see athletes always using technology as a crutch and continue to break records as a regular practice.

Besides, something tells me that continuing to make things easier doesn’t help us push our physical limits.

“Difficulty…is the nurse of greatness” — William Cullen Bryant

Shoes are cheating…and so are polyurethane swimsuits, duh.

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