Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Thursday 1st May 2014
It's a conversation topic that often rears its head at this time of year..."Would Team X from 20 whatever years ago have beaten Team Y from today?", "Would the best player from yesteryear be able to hold their own in the current sporting climate?" or have the athletes of today evolved so far beyond their forefathers that they would end up running rings around the sporting relics of days gone by?

The default answer that normally settles the debate is that the athletes of 2014 are fitter, faster & stronger than those of 1914. Advances in sports science have lead to improved diets, training methods & conditioning approaches, just serving to compliment the natural evolution of the human race to push the boundaries of sporting achievement.

Year on year we see records tumble on the athletics track, in the swimming pool, in the velodrome or in the arenas that showcase the team sports events around the globe. It's undeniable proof that the sporting gladiators of the 21st Century are strides ahead of their predecessors. Or is it?

Author David Epstein has recently published his new book "The Sports Gene". In the presentation broadcast on TED, featured below, he peels back the layers of sporting progress to shed light on the factors behind the leaps in human performance & answer the question "are athlete really getting faster, better, stronger?".  It's an enlightening & at times surprising presentation that's well worth watching.

Meanwhile, the topic of debate that follows on from that initial question I asked, is just how far can we keep pushing the line?  How much faster can the 100m be run?  How much higher or longer can a human leap?  How many more rotations can our snowboarders achieve between launching & landing?

An article I read back in the summer suggests that whilst advances in science & technology can enhance practice or performance, there are those that aren't just leaving these quests to chance, good training or hard work.  The sinister advent of genetic doping has already arrived & the moral dilemmas aren't going to get any easier to appease, as the fight to detect just who has taken what & for which effect, gets harder & harder for the sport police to win.  It makes you wonder just how far some people are prepared to go to write their name in the record books.

It's always good to stoke the fire of debate!!!

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