A new iteration of the Olympic games are about to start. I couldn't care less, except the RSS feed of my daily newspaper is half-full with stories about people dropping out because of doping, suspected or confirmed. So now I'm annoyed, and when I'm annoyed, I rant. This is my rant about the sports industry.
The whole conflict about doping is hypocritical. Doping happens because you get huge benefits if you well at the topmost levels in the world of professional sports. In other words, you can earn a lot of money, and get laid a lot, if you win.
It's a gamble: if you dope, and aren't caught, you'll get the big prize. If you don't dope, you almost certainly won't get any prize, since everyone else is doping. Of course, if you do dope, and are caught, you will suffer, sometimes a lot.
The hypocritical part is that the whole system is set up to favor those who dope and don't get caught. The prize is so big that it's inconceivable to even try to compete without doping. When someone gets caught, everyone goes "bad athlete, bad, bad, spank, spank". And then they continue doping everyone else.
To fix doping, you have to fix the system. Remove the big benefits of winning, and people will suddenly no longer feel it's a good bet to take huge risks with your health and career just to win one game. Make sports be again about having fun while getting fit, or maintaining fitness. Or change the rules so that doping won't help you win.
That's never going to happen, of course. Sports is a huge industry, and entangled in all sorts of political issues. No multi-dozen billion dollar industry is going to decide that it's unethical and close up shop. They'll lie and cheat to protect their business, and if people get hurt in the process, they don't care.
The sports industry, including the Olympic games, knowingly and intentionally maintains a system which makes people bet their health, even life, on winning on being swifter, going higher, or being stronger than everyone else. This causes large amounts of needless suffering.
I'm letting the athletes off the hook, though. They, too, knowingly and intentionally participate in the system. I'm sure there are a few innocents who are doped without knowing. For them, I'm truly sorry. For the rest, they chose their fate.
The audience is also firmly on the hook. Their money is ultimately the reason sports is such a huge business. If you watch sports, at least the kind of sports perpetrated by the sports industry, you support the system. If you do that knowingly, intentionally, fair enough, to each their own evil. If you are blissfully ignorant, please wake up and think about your choice.
There's another hypocritical aspect to the whole sports and doping issue, though. Doping, or enhancing your performance via a list of unallowed methods, is against the rules. It's not allowed to take this medicine, or get that kind of medical operation. Quoting Wikipedia:
The reasons are mainly the health threat of performance-enhancing drugs, the equality of opportunity of the athletes and the exemplary effect of "clean" (doping-free) sports in the public.
Frankly, at least the middle third of that is utter bull. If you disallow drugs, there are only two ways that determine which of two athletes are better: luck and genetics.
In the highly optimized world of training of today's top athletes, the differences between the training any two athletes do are due to either stupidity or chance. All top athletes have the same strength of will, and they can train full time, in good conditions, and have good trainers. If they don't have that, they're unlucky.
What remains is genetics, and perhaps early upbringing. This athlete is born with just a little bit better genes for running, and that one got to play football with other really good players all day every day as a child.
Everyone without that luck, and without those genes is unable to compete at the top level.
Luck and genetics, those do not give equal opportunity to all athletes.
A healthy sports system which really treasured the values
the current sports industry claims to have, but doesn't really, would look completely different. The existing rules could certainly be tweaked to allow a healthy sports system. Golf has handicaps, which is one good model for that.
Blah. I don't even like sports, and here I've written way too much about it. The whole thing is just blah. There's more important things to worry about.