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posted by mattie_p on Tuesday February 18 2014, @07:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the and-now-for-sports dept.

CoolHand writes:

"Sci-Tech Today talks about the role of technology in the Olympics from a unique perspective:

Every advance in the ever-accelerating juggernaut of sports technology threatens to widen the divide between Olympic haves and have-nots. Well-sponsored teams and rich governments pay top-end scientists and engineers to shape their skis, perfect their skates, tighten their suits, measure their gravitational pull.

I'm no luddite, but this seems to make these sports more about who can afford the best tech, and less about the true spirit of the games: bringing the best athletes from all countries together to compete. How can it be about the athletes, when some of the best athletes may never win due to lack of funding/tech?"

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday February 18 2014, @09:55PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday February 18 2014, @09:55PM (#1954)

    I don't think the athlete is bad either, although I think the net effect on society of the situation is negative. Your first argument was not very convincing, by analogy with a natural born pickpocket, that's a very interesting skill, but if its a net negative to society, eliminate it. Sucks to have a skill thats bad for society.

    WRT training tech we also disagree. There is a ten or so million dollar official Olympic athlete training facility visible from my commute, paid for (in part) of course by my tax dollars. If we drop ten million bucks for training, because we can, or at least we took out the loans and did it anyway, "its only fair" that Somalian athletes get perhaps ten thousand bucks of roids to even up the competition.

    Originally the Olympics was about hanging out together as a culture, then it died out for a couple centuries, then it was reborn into some nationalistic competition where our side of the cold war was all about the individual over collectivism so it somehow warped into individualism worship, now its all about the corporate licensing and advertising and in the background between commercials someone is sweating or something, but whats really important is who's selling the official olympic french fry. I don't think it would be a problem if it evolved yet again and became a team effort, where in a biathlon the athlete, gunsmith, and pharmacological biochemist are all equally important. You want better performance enhancing drugs? Well try fully funding your national university system and creating some STEM jobs not just STEM students/grads and it'll take care of itself, that sounds fair enough.

    Another peculiarity of the games has been the dramatic shift from nationalism to I guess you'd call it geneticism or something. Currently there's a fixation as part of the Olympics with making sure everyone lives up to the peak that genetics allows, which is not historical at all. Fifty years ago if the Jamaicans can't train for the bobsled, well, I guess it just sucks to be a Jamaican bobsled driver. Not the modern "we need to move heaven and earth so everyone gets an equal chance at a participation trophy". Would we really lose anything or change anything if we just said "Can't afford a decent biochemist? No? Well, sucks to be you, guess you're not winning." and moved on with life. We're talking about a trivial medal, not basic health care or some other fundamental human right.

    Thats another mystery, in the USA is long standing policy "Can't afford medical care? Well have a nice death LOL" but if some foreigner can't afford the roids we give to our own guys, we have a handwringing panic attack about how to make it "fair". I'm not very impressed. Someone out there doesn't have health insurance so in a brave show of solidarity I'll not put a bandaid on my paper cut, that'll really change the world.

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