Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Demise of Professional Sports

Some people have predicted that professional sports as we know them have at most a decade left to exist. It turns out that they may have been too optimistic.

The reason behind this prediction is that the use of performance enhancing drugs will become more and more widespread. Already new designer drugs are appearing faster than they can devise tests for them. And within a decade genetic engineering will produce dramatic athletic improvements while being essentially impossible to detect.

If you look at the news today from the Tour de France, I currently count three teams that have pulled out due to illegal drug use, and the current leader, Michael Rasmussen was just disqualified. The race is becoming a contest of who has the best chemist, with the chances of winning without the aid of performance enhancing drugs growing dimmer each year. The Tour de France, as we knew it, is just about over.

And in baseball, Barry Bonds is about to break the all time home run record with what clearly seems to be the aid of performance enhancing drugs, rendering that record almost meaningless. Before long it will become routine for someone to hit over 100 home runs in a year.

Try to imagine football with 300 pound quarterbacks and linemen routine exceeding 500 pounds. Where is this all going?

Perhaps the basic contradiction at the heart of professional (something done for money) sport (something done solely for fun) will reach a point where it cannot be overcome or hidden behind a fantasy any longer.