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Disadvantage


 

Sport is a funny thing (someone had to christen our new blog with a cliché, OK?). It’s all right for Jason Giambi, a proven steroid freak, to play first base for the Yankees, but it’s not OK for Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, to compete in Olympic track and field events. Why? Because his hook-shaped prosthetic legs—made of carbon fiber—give him an unfair “mechanical advantage.”

That’s what the International Association of Athletics Federations (whatever that is) decided in January. Thankfully, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned that ridiculous judgment today, ruling that the 21-year-old South African is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes. “I am ecstatic,” Pistorius told reporters in Milan, Italy. “When I found out, I cried. It is a battle that has been going on for far too long. It’s a great day for sport. I think this day is going to go down in history for the equality of disabled people.”

It’s the right decision for one simple reason: none of his fellow sprinters would ever wish to have the same “advantage.” Hope to see you in Beijing, Mr. Pistorius…


 
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Disadvantage

  1. I can’t agree with you Frisco. I know I’m going to hell for saying this, but I don’t think this guy should be eligible for competiton against able-bodied athletes either.

    To me, the important question is whether Pistorius’s athletic achievements are comparable to the sprinters he will compete against. I have lots of respect for his perseverance and his talent. But him running the 100-metres in 10 seconds is not directly comparable to another runner. for the same reason, I agreed with the PGA’s decision not to let Casey Martin use a power cart 10 years ago.

    I have no idea if this guy’s carbon fibre springs are a mechanical advantage or disadvantage to human legs. The point is, they’re different. Everybody has to be using the same equipment for sports to present a level playing field. If this guy wins a gold medal in Beijing the whole competition will carry an asterisk.

    Yes… I’m picking on the double-amputee. That makes me a bad person.

  2. But do athletes really have the “same equipment” anyway? Training and discipline counts for a lot but so do the natural physical advantages athletes hold over each other (and us).

    Basing eligibility on sameness seems fair but it’s really only fair if everyone has started out the same to begin with.

    And it doesn’t seem in the Olympic spirit to exclude anyone who’s different, either. Why not interpret the rules for each exceptional player?

    For “transitioned” athletes, those who have change their sex, the IOC has ruled to allow them to compete, so long as they meet a few requirements (they’ve had the surgery 2 yrs beforehand, they are recognized as their new sex by an official, and they may require hormone therapy to lessen advantages). Seems fair to me.

  3. The IOC and Olympics have turned into a gaudy corporate shilling side show anyway, so I don’t really think having someone with a possible mechanical advantage would hurt the integrity of the games. What integrity?

  4. Tell you what, Steve, I’ll trade you limbs. I think that it’s fantastic that they’re allowing him to compete.

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