Olympics: What Does It Mean to Compete?

One of the highlights of the week may have been the introduction of a Toyota robot that can sink basketball shots from half court. There’s still a ways to go for CUE to become a full basketball player. It takes too long to set up shots and doesn’t dribble the ball. However, if it can hit shots, and it can, it could also pass the ball.


We’ve seen the impact of technology on almost every sport, ranging from running shoes to the design of luge and bobsleds. There have been changes in golf clubs to make the ball go farther. Car racing has gotten to the point at which you can argue whether drivers are even necessary, and in 10 years they may not be.

How much of a victory is the athlete and how much is the gear in which he or she is wrapped?

Ignoring pharmaceuticals, a few sports remain relatively “pure.” Gymnastics is probably the best example. The gear is common; everyone uses the same floor mats. There’s nothing you can do with a parallel bar to enhance performance. Skating as well. Shoes and blades are pretty standard. What you do with them is up to the wearer.

However, we are moving toward an age in which robots will be able to do everything physically that a human can do. Does that diminish competition? Will that kill the audience for sports?


  1. Just on one of your pet subjects, I was amused yesterday to see a Tokyo awards ceremony in which the athletes were wearing masks. When you think how clean that environment must be, and these guys are wearing masks…

    I know that they have been told to set an example but it kinda tickled me how the show takes priority.

    Liked by 1 person

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