The World Cup is back. I was lucky enough to be standing near a TV (at a soccer center no less) when the U.S. scored its first goal against Ghana. I will never forget the first time I ever watched men’s soccer live. It was a college game and I sat in awe of how exciting such a low scoring game could be. I wondered where soccer had been all my life.
Nike has a clever ad for the World Cup. The best football players in the world are replaced by “clones” that never make mistakes. Once one guy is cloned, they all get cloned because, go figure, the natural athlete can no longer compete. Then the fans disappear because a game between perfection and more perfection is not worth watching. It certainly isn’t sport.
Take a look:
In a fantasy world, Perfection Inc.’s clones would lose to the natural athlete. But I fear that won’t happen in the real world once sport embraces enhancements. If human augmentation is accepted by regulatory bodies, the naturals will get left behind and sport will be forever changed.
It is already happening with illicit steroids and doping. As enhancements get more radical, the gap between the enhanced and the natural will widen.
Performance enhancements, whether chemical or not, are by nature coercive. If one guy is doing it, everyone else feels compelled to as well.
I love this quote from USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart released after the Lance Armstrong scandal:
Our mission is to protect clean athletes by preserving the integrity of competition not only for today’s athletes but also the athletes of tomorrow. We have heard from many athletes who have faced an unfair dilemma — dope, or don’t compete at the highest levels of the sport. Many of them abandoned their dreams and left sport because they refused to endanger their health and participate in doping. That is a tragic choice no athlete should have to make.