When you're building heroes, sometimes you need some extra parts.
For a while I didn’t really like F1 racing. I felt that it was unnatural. The cars weren’t really cars so much as beasts which moved with more volition taken from statistics and a team of engineers than from a driver. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that it was really a team sport, that overall a whole bunch of people were responsible for the end result. Most of all, I liked that engineers played a major part in the success story. What I didn’t like was that by the time the qualifying was over, so was most of the real race.
A couple of years later, around about when they made the engines less powerful and removed all the driver assists, all the hilarious crashes during qualifying softened me a little, and I could see again that drivers who were disadvantaged in the old days were beginning to break through. F1 began to be a part of my life again, albeit slowly. The beasts themselves began to feel like cars again, their engines changing from monstrosities to exciting beings which began as a twinkle in the eyes of a not-quite-all-there engineer. Qualifying stopped seeming like a sterile environment for data gathering and began to seem more like a bunch of people trying to make something go the distance by the seat of their pants.
F1 Racing is a combination of a team of highly skilled, slightly insane people trying to pull off something near impossible. It’s fairly removed from other forms of racing, it’s very removed from the cars we all drive in the conditions we drive them, but it’s still great.
The olympics started out as a bunch of amateurs from all the countries competing in various activities. As far as I can tell, it was chest beating from each of the countries, saying “you don't want to start a war with us, because we can run faster than you, swim harder than you, and are pretty good with spears and such.” One of the important things was that it was ordinary people competing. In today’s world, it’d be brick-layers and tax collectors all running, jumping, throwing shotput balls, and swimming for their country.
As you may have noticed, the real olympics is nothing like that. It’s a freak-show of people who spend all of their time doing nothing but a particular kind of sport. Far from having someone being good at both running and shotput, people clearly have bodies designed only for one thing. While the olympics may have started out as ordinary racing with ordinary cars which have been tricked up, it’s now like Formula 1.
There was an entire catalyst episode about how scientists were working alongside athletes to improve their performance (See a related story here). These things went all the way from reaction times, to breathing, to moving. Even the diet of professional athletes is fairly strictly controlled. An athlete is now more than a single person trying their best to succeed, more than even someone who works at it professionally, it’s the entire technological brunt of a country’s sports science institute working to turn these ordinary people into a machine maximising their potential at a single event.
While these athletes aren’t using drugs to enhance their performance, they’re using every other means at their disposal. The only reason I expect that drugs are still illegal is that they’d cause permanent damage to an athlete, or addiction, or other problems later down the line. Unlike drugs though, swimsuits are not life-threatening. The only thing they do is make it clear that there are a bunch of people who are there supporting these athletes in what they’re trying to achieve.
So what’s the problem?