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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Wednesday, 7 May, 2008

This weeks wisdom, though limited, is nonetheless refreshing. It comes from the May 5 issue of ESPN magazine, from an article titled “Let ‘Em Play“. It about prosthetics and bionics in sport, and the author, Eric Adelson, makes a good point for regulatory acceptance of these technologies:

The bottom line is this: Sports do not need knee-jerk segregation, they need rational and fair regulation. Every organized sport begins the same way, with the creation of rules. We then establish technological limits, as with horsepower in auto racing, stick curvature in hockey, bike weight in cycling. As sports progress, those rules are sometimes altered. The USGA, for instance, responded to advances in club technology by legalizing metal heads in the early ’80s. In Chariots of Fire, the hero comes under heavy scrutiny for using his era’s version of steroids: a coach, at a time when the sport frowned upon outside assistance. So if we can adjust rules of sports to the time, why not for prosthetics?

Very good. A nice first step, and it is good that a magazine like ESPN is getting some bioethics in amongst their pages. The article does come off a little too much in favour of restorative bionics rather than enhancement bionics, but nonetheless the day will come when Paralympians will run faster, throw farther and shoot more accurately than Olympians, thanks to their prosthetic legs, cyborg arms and bionic eyes.

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