Monday, July 16, 2007

This Pistorius Story Ain't Goin Away...

You didn't hear the bad guys complaining to the papers about Robocop having an unfair advantage, did you?

This Pistorius story gets weirder and weirder. Earlier today I posted a short ditty about Oscar Pistorius and his attempts to qualify for the Olympics. I didn't really want to get into the meat of the controversy because it is a little heavy and both sides have legitimate concerns and instead wanted to focus on the fact that the guy is frickin ridiculous because to me that made for lighter and more entertaining material for a 2 minute blog read. But when the IAAF came out >today and said that preliminary results of a study they've done (The International Association of Athletic Federations has been reviewing footage from two high-definition cameras that filmed Pistorius in Rome to determine if his prosthetic racing legs give him an unfair advantage, because that should be conclusive) showed that Pistorius's prosthetic "legs" offer less air resistance than a normal runner and that that's one of the reasons it is unfair for him to compete with "able-bodied" runners, I felt compelled to at least say something about it:
"The guy Oscar beat on Friday -- the stride length was the same, but the speed through the air was slower for the able-bodied guy," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said. "This research makes us want to do more."
No shit you need to do more research than watch a fucking tape of one race to conclude that there is less wind resistance for Pistorius than the other runners. While you're at it why don't you also see what the relative effect of NOT HAVING FUCKING LEGS TO RUN ON has on a normal person. Shouldn't we be celebrating this guy's achievements as opposed to trying to knock him down. The guy is a fucking maninal.

All that being said, I empathize with the greater concern that as technology advances there will have to be some tough decisions made about what kind of technology will be allowed for competition (the IAAF's position is "We need to separate emotion from the science," Davies said. "We all wish him well. The point here is what's going to happen in 10 years? What happens if it continues to evolve?"). I mean, if they ever develop a technology to allow people to surgically implant a Cheetah torso and legs onto their lower half and that person can now run 75mph, that may be where we have to draw the line. But today, Oscar Pistorius is balancing himself on metal stems and somehow able to run at world class speed. He is a phenomal athlete. Yes we must be cautious of developments that provide an unfair playing field for prosthetically "enhanced" (that's really not the right word but it could be in the future) individuals as technology provides better options for disabled people, but we do not need to pre-emptively condemn those who we fear are unfairly benefitting from prosthetics before we know the whole truth about what benefit they are actually receiving. I think after dealing with a lifetime of disability, Oscar Pistorius knows a little about "fairness." He doesn't want an advantage over anyone. My guess is that all he wants is a chance to even the score.

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