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Oh Boy.... I think this makes me a jerk.

(Pic is Nike campaign photo of South African Sprinter Oscar Pistorius)

Just this week The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was eligible to run in the Olympics in China later this year. He still has to qualify, he hasn't done that yet. But even if he doesn't qualify this is still gonna be a history affecting decision. The reason this is a story is the guy is a double amputee. He doesn't have any legs below the knee. Here is the Yahoo story.

So the question is this... should he be allowed to compete??? I am not 100% sure, but I don't think he should be allowed to. What if the aesthetics give him an unfair advantage? It is pretty obvious that advances in technology can in fact improve human performance. I don't know in this instance if Mr. Pistorius has an unfair advantage but I don't think anyone know for sure! That's the point! It is not a level playing field.

Allowing him to participate is going to open a gigantic debate that we will never truly be able to be answered. We will never be able to draw lines on what is allowed and what isn't, can wheel chair athletes compete with motors on the wheels? Can amputees with wheels compete? I know those are extreme examples but that is where it will head. Eventually technology will make faster running leg than anyone could be born with and then what do we do???

Doesn't he, at a minimum have the advantage of not having the concerns of injuring his ankles, feet and toes? These worlds class athletes, all athletes have injury on their mind constantly throughout their training regimes?
Mr. Pistorius doesn't have the same issues with injury concerns that other Olympic athletes do. It just different, I can't claim to understand this it just doesn't add up.

Technology is going to continually improve all of our lives, but it is also going to force us into a whole new set moral and ethical dilemmas that we are going to be faced with.

I seriously am not claiming I completely understand this, I do however think the Olympics in not about everyone participating, it is about fair competition with the best athletes in the world. As fair as possible. As much as possible keeping everyone on a level playing field.
Mr. Pistorius is not on the same field as everyone else. I don't know if he is on a higher field, just not the same field.

Please don't come back at me with "Your Mean Cody" I feel for this guy and admire the crap out of how hard he works and how he has tackled the cards life dealt him hand on and won, big time. I just don't think... I don't know for sure if he should be allowed to participate.


  1. tell danica patrick she can't race indy cars because she is 40-50 lbs. lighter than the male drivers. everyone has some sort of handicap. let him run and let the other athletes figure out how to compete better.

  2. Danica Patrick is dealing with an advantage that she was born with. Not an advantage that $$$$ and technology created.

    If you took the current fastest man in the world, intentionally cut off his legs and the took the prosthetics that Mr. Pistorius is wearing and put them on him and then the guy broke the 200m World Record by 3 sec....

    Then we would know for sure these things give a drastic advantage. Right???

    We will never know and therefor it's not fair.

    I don't think...

  3. I don't think it makes you a jerk. I don't think it's fair. I'm really sorry that he doesn't have his legs, but it's just not the same. I can't come up with a great explanation that's not going to make me sound like a jerk, but it's just the way it is.

    It's not going to be an issue until someone wins, but eventually someone WILL win. Look how much further people drive golf balls now than they did twenty years ago. Track and Field shouldn't be an exercise in engineering.

  4. I agree with Scott,

    It's exactly what I was saying in the post, I just wasn't prepared to commit. Hearing Scott say it also seeing him have trouble explaining it just like I did, reaffirms my convictions. I don't think he should be allowed to run.

  5. It's a long read, but here's some pretty good science behind this issue. This guy did a pretty good job of explaining some of my problems and coming up with some other things I hadn't even thought of. I'd skip down to #3 - Evaluation of Scientific Arguments. The author has a Ph.D. in Exercise Science and is from South Africa, so I'm sure he probably gets it a little better than we do.

  6. Scott just posted War and Peace for any of you that wanted to read it digitally.

    Just kidding Scott.

    I glanced through it and will get back to it in detail. I am glad someone actually has some attempt at science behind it.

    I have jad this urge to make a Stock Car (NASCAR) comparison in this discussion, Scott...

  7. I think he should be allowed to compete, but he should have to be on roller skates, or have his lane filled with a half inch of water, or oil.

  8. I think there is a little bit of a NASCAR thing going where athletes could end up with an engineering crew back at the gym. A little bit over the top, but that's kinda the scary part.

    The other thing I wonder about is where we end up drawing the line on what's disabled. What if I develop some kinda contraption that attaches onto able-bodied legs and turns someone who previously ran a 50 second 400 into someone who runs a 45 second 400 by using some funky physics? Can that guy cut off his little toe and claim he needs them to help him run? If Pistorius can use whatever he wants to run, then why can't I? There will have to be a committee to decide who is disabled ENOUGH to get help. The only thing track has going for it right now is that it doesn't have any judgment calls. It'd be nice to keep it that way.

    Having said all that, if someone makes one of those contraptions, and it can drop about 2 more seconds or so off my best times, I'll change my mind and see Oscar in Beijing. :)

  9. Also, what if this guy was a high jumper jumping about 7-5 with these springy things? How would that affect the argument?

  10. There's the whole "overcoming adversity" aspect of this that makes one feel intrinsically like a douche bag for saying that he shouldn't compete. Nobody wants to feel like they're taking away his dreams.

    But what about the other athletes that bust their asses training for the Olympics? These people want to live out their dreams as well.

    It's not just about one man's trials and tribulations, is all I'm saying. If there's even a shred of concern that he's got mechanical advantage that would make it unfair, he shouldn't be allowed to compete.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

  11. Scott,

    Your "How Disabled are you?" argument is exactly what I was getting at in the original post.

    Political correctness creates huge gray areas and in this case there is no room for it.

    I had a great mental image of the high jumping thing.


    Great point as well I eluded to that a little in the post as well. The Olympics is not a feel good everybody gets a ribbon YMCA soccer thing. It's the best damn athletes in the world and not everybody gets to go. It isn't about feeling good and PC crap, it's about competition and tons of people don't get to go for numerous reasons.
    I knew once it broke loose there would be good comments on this.

    Where's the Politically correct group that hates us for our comments here. Has to be some in the world cause this guy is getting to go if he qualifies.

  12. Well, obviously it *could* make him faster, personally. Add two-six more inches than his standard 'walking legs' (at the risk of sounding terribly insensitive) and he is faster than if he was walking on them.

    They are supposedly starting to penalize drivers like Danika Patrick by making her ADD weight to her car. They have always had car weight restrictions, but now athlete restrictions as well. That's like saying "Yao Ming, we're going to have to get you to play in your socks, since you're so tall, you'll have to slip around a little bit'

    Sporting events have arbitrary rules on fairness, and there will always be questions like 'why don't get put a 800 pound goalie in the NHL?'

    In the 2032 olympics there will be a category for 'genetically or electro-mechanically modified humanoids'. It will probably be at burning man for a few years first, but it will come.

    The day will come when 'organic' athletes will be at a serious disadvantage, and will need their own category.

  13. That dude is freaky fast, and I'm sure his techno-feet help. But what about where the prostheses meet his stumps? I know two amputees, and while they don't have space-age limbs like homeboy here, their chief complaints are that their stumps hurt like mad hell when they wear their prostheses. Don't you think that there must be some kind of pain or issue with where his flesh meets the prosthetics? Couldn't that create some kind of disadvantage to counteract the advantages the prostheses might give him?

    If science and technology can create such kick ass advances, can't scientists test whether there actually is an advantage and take it from there?

    As for Danica, why can't they add weight to her car somehow? How hard could it be to weight her seat in a way that mimics the way a male body would weigh it down? And what if a tiny man wanted to race? It's a no go, then?

    I don't even know why I'm weighing in. I never even watch the Olympics and I could care less about car racing. I guess I just have too much time on my hands today.

  14. The point is that Danika has a natural advantage, and penalizing her for that is unfair. If she is a good (winning) driver despite the fact that she isn't as strong as some of the others that weigh much more than her, that's her advantage.

  15. Nora, Issac,

    Great additions to a cool discussion here.

    I think all of your questions are valid, just the fact that they are questions is why the answer to this has to be "No he can't compete". We don't know if the stump injuries makes it the same, we don't know how to measure the benefit of the technology, we don't know if there is a creatable disadvantage to even the odds if the odds aren't even, which we don't even know for sure. Ok sorry tried to get cute in the last sentence.

    He can't compete, too many unknowns, there for it is not fair. Not saying "EVER" just not right now cause we don't know enough.

    Every time I see your name I will think of the phrase "Nerd Olympics"

  16. Where does it end? Tiger Woods had laser eye surgery. What about Tommy John Surgery for baseball players? In some cases, pitchers will throw harder after the surgery than they did before the injury that caused the surgery to be necessary.

  17. Mr Underhill

    i agree with you it could get ridiculous but doesn't it have to end. Or at least doesn't there have to be an answer to questions before folks are allowed to participate.

  18. This was not the direction I thought this post would take. For Cody's extreme tendencies, I thought he would be all over this guy. Talk about "for the love of the game" - this guy wants to compete so badly he does it without his own legs.

    There have been paraplegic and amputee competitive sports for a long time. The guys racing in wheel chairs, "Murder Ball", etc. With the exception of fundamentally changing the sport (being on wheels), I don't think those athletes have been out performing fullyabled athletes. If they had been I think we would all be watching the amputee NBA and the amputee Olympics - because they would run faster, jump higher, and look really freakin' cool. I think the point here is that separate is not equal - that the segregation of athletes is not sportsman like.

  19. I think they should let him do it, just to see what happens. Why not? If he whoops serious ass at every turn and it turns out it's the mechanical advantage, well, it seems the Olympic committee will be educated. Hell, strip him of his medals like they would if he popped for roids after the fact.

    It's the Olympics, not a life and death situation.

  20. Nora,

    What if he takes 6th???

    But: he only has the physical ability to actually take 15th or his physical ability and training really only make him a slightly above average sprinter?? And he only takes 6th in the Olympics because of an advantage the technology in his carbon manufactured lower legs?

    No would probably raise a fuss if he took 6th right?? If I placed 7th or below... There would always be a justifiable doubt or concern in the back of my mind.


I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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