Saturday, October 11, 2008

Will Genetic Engineering Ruin Sports?

I will have to begin in mentioning that I am not a sports nut. I do like to watch the occasional baseball and football game. Despite this, the topic of sports is going to be may main topic. But not just sports in curiosity who will win the next Superbowl, but sports in concern with genetics. Where will the idea of sports go with the introduction (and advancement) of genetic engineering? Will such technology, which has high hopes in enhancing ourselves to be better humans, ruin the very idea of sports? With the playing field be fair? Or will it destroy the very structure of competition? If so, will the law forbid such technology, or forbid any altered child from entering sport?

I'm sure most of our readers have heard of the recent headlines of steroid use in the MLB. The uproar of the use of steroids only sparked more interesting questions when concerning with the future of genetic engineering. People were upset and felt cheated that such athletes took performance drugs to better their game. Can the upset of steroids ban any idea of future genetically altered athletes from entering sports? It is known that steroids have some major side effects that can harm the taker. For a better look, check the ESPN special of steroids: ESPN Special On Steroids

Genetic technology is ever progressing, and every year that passes brings us even closer to the technology of genetic engineering. We already have super mice!; Marathon Mice,
Schwarzenegger Mice, and my favorite, Doogie Mice. For a side note, most of what I will be discussing will be in the hypothetical. In other words, there are some concerning issues as to what we will be able to alter in our children's genes. In addition, Im already assuming that such technology is "perfected" so to say. I believe most will agree that such technology in general should not be practiced until all the kinks are well, fixed. I also would like to add that I am assuming that this technology will be widely accessible.

So, if you have the option to choose certain traits for your children; (already taking the precautions to remove any defects and/or diseases), what will you choose? Every parent would want the best for their child. Either it be a trait that the parents believe to be beneficial, i.e. physical appearance, or a trait that is in general beneficial no matter what scenario, prolonged-memory. In addition, you can better befit your child with physical agility, such as strength, or the ability to run fast. This alterations and enhancements do not have to be linked with the parents desire to "create" an athlete, (though this can happen), but such alterations can lead a child to consider such a course. If so, what will the precautions be? At this moment I am going to drift into Lance Armstrong. My point will be seen, I assure you.

Lance Armstrong is a perfect example of a great athlete. He shares a lot of the same attributes that other bicyclist share, but one thing that he does have differently is his unique lactate levels. The average among bicyclists is between 12 and 20u L/Kg. Armstrong's level is maximum 6u L/Kg. (information found on Answers: Armstrong) This means he feels less physical fatigue, allowing him to continue long distances without losing strength. Is this fair to the other players? Or is it just part of the game? Granted, most would agree that though you might have the tools, its how you use it that shows your worth. In any who, would it be wrong of parents to genetically alter their child to have these attributes? Or is it fair for Armstrong only because he got it through chance (chance meaning it accrued with no interference or received it through his parents with no interference). Would you look at Armstrong differently if you knew he received this attribute deliberately through genetic technology? Would you feel that he should be stripped of his awards and banned from the sport if he did. In addition, would you believe that all altered individuals be banned from participating in any sport?

If genetic engineering is "perfected", and is seen as a due course of helping our children, what would happen to the legality of those enhanced. Would the law ban some individuals because they were altered prior to birth? In all honestly, I cant see the law banning this technology entirely (maybe some aspects of enhancement). Im at the moment curious as what will the law do? Will they ban altered athletes entirely, or have a separate league? Or will the law do nothing and allow such individuals to enter. Will this then require other non-enhanced athletes to comply?
Athletes are already posthuman cyborgs and we celebrate this. It is likely that greater use of this technology will seep into other aspects of culture, as we begin to embrace more and more enhancements. Sports might soon become peculiar for resisting such developments and, in the meantime, will be placing athletes at greater risk by forcing them to enhance behind closed doors.�??1 Either way, sports competition will take some dramatic hits and misses as genetic engineering progresses into the future.

There is a novel written by Kevin Joseph called The Champion Maker (2005). The story offers us a fictional look into what might occur if an exceptional athlete was found to be genetically altered. It deals with reaction and attention of the courts.

Andy Miah, Engineering Athletes, The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA), 18 May 2008.

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