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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Defending the Wicked Part 6: The Steroid Athlete

Something is wrong in a game only if we make up a rule in our game that it is wrong. It is considered to be wrong to use a computer to play chess with another player, that is cheating, because it is against the rules. However, if it is a match between a human and a machine then it is no longer considered to be wrong because this new game has its own set of rules. So all we have to do to stop making something wrong in a certain game is to change a rule so that it is acceptable. And this is exactly where the athlete on steroids lies in. The steroid athlete does something wrong only by the commonly established rules for sports. It is considered cheating to use steroids to improve your performance. However, if we were to get rid of that rule and say that athletes can use whatever means they desired to improve their performance then steroid athletes will no longer be doing anything wrong.

We need to remember that the technology that we use today was not available a hundred years ago. It is amazing to see the Olympic time for the marathon in 1894, which was about 3 hours reduced to about 2 hours at present. The people are still the same, so what changed? What changed was that better technique was developed, technology was developed to allow players to monitor their performance, and better sport clothing was made to improve the efficiency of the athletes. Every Olympic record that was set a hundred years ago can easily be smashed today by almost any average Olympic athlete in that sport. Just consider the world record for the mile. The fastest athletes ran the mile in about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. This was back in the 1850's. The record was set by Westhall in 1852 to 4 minutes and 28 seconds. Over the years this was all reduced to around 4 minutes and a few seconds by many athletes. It was believed to be impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes. This was finally shattered in 1952 by Bannister who did the mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. The myth was finally broken. The record for a mile run was still being lowered, to the point of the modern day where it is now at the totally surprising 3 minutes and 43 seconds. What happened? Was there a new superior race of runners? No, the people are still the same. The technology and equipment that athletes used improved and thereby their speed times got lower.

Why is it cheating to use steroids to improve your game but not cheating when you use your own specially designed running shoes that were unavailable a hundred years ago? I would be excited to see how far people can go if we did allow steroids and other substances for athletes to improve their game. Maybe on steroids the mile can be broken in 3 minutes and 30 seconds? Athletes have always been looking for the best possible methods to improve their performance, so why not let them use steroids or whatever other substances so that they can perform even better?

One might object and say that steroids are a health issue to the athletes. But whose life is it? Is it our life to decide what kind of activities athletes can engage in or their life to decide that for themselves? Besides the Olympic is one huge health issue itself. Olympic athletes do not live very long lives, especially marathon runners (the most gruesome of all sport events). Olympic athletes all push their bodies to their maximum point. This is true for runners, weightlifters, swimmers, gymnasts and so forth (with the exception of curlers). All of them push their bodies far. It is a health issue for athletes to push themselves so hard, but it is their own choice, and we respect their choice by not banning the Olympics because it is a health issue. So it is a little hypocritical to object to the usage of steroids on the grounds that it is a health issue.

Furthermore, perhaps steroids are only dangerous because it is illegal to be used in sports in the first place? If drug companies were able to produce performance improving substances then perhaps they would be a lot safer in order to motivate more athletes to use them to improve their game. It is just like drugs and prostitution. Both drugs and prostitution are considered to be unsafe, but that is only because it was made it illegal. There is no reason to assume why steroids and other substances would continue to be as dangerous as they are now if it were not for the competitive market of performance substances.

There also could be other side benefits for a market of steroids. What steroids and other substances really are, is a form of transhumanism. We improve the human body by inserting in it forgein bodies. I know there a lot of transhumanist lovers out there in the world. Well, we can make that dream into a reality by beginning with sports. These athletes would be stronger, faster, have more concentration, and have a lot more endurance. When it comes to physical strength these people would be the ubermensch.

Do not worry, if you are not a fan of steroids or other substances because you think it is unfair for people to modify their bodies in sports then you can have your own sports. There can be steroid baseball and steroid-free baseball (which I guess does not really exist). In steroid baseball the athletes can hit the ball out of the stadium while in steroid-free baseball the athletes stick to their original human bodies with no modifications. It is all up to how we make the rules. Some sports will stay steroid-free by keeping those rules, like the Olympics (because it would be really hard to have such an agreement from all countries of the world on allowing steroids). And some sports might start to have super-players which can do things that normal people cannot. Why settle on a single standard for sports? It is a lot more exciting to have different kind of sports with their own standards that we can watch and experiment on.

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