As the world prepares to meet in Beijing on 8/8/08 for our quadrennial festival of sport, it seems clear that years of training and clean living will mean nothing without one of those terrific mega-swimsuits.
Speedo's new innovative full-body swimsuit, the fabulous LZR, is causing a cavalcade of new world record performances in the swimming pool. Americans have always dominated these aquatic events, and with the aid of this new technology, they will triumph once again in record times as the U.S. Olympic trials have demonstrated.
We stand on the edge of many technological and genetic innovations that will alter the nature of sport competition. Questions about the use of a golf cart by disabled American golfer Casey Martin will seem as old-fashioned as a horse and buggy race down Main Street. We have embraced the implications of the LZR suit, and now we will sit back and enjoy the results.
There is nothing wrong with new technology as long as it is available to every competitor in every country, and Speedo is making sure that it is. Genetic innovations are more difficult to track, and we won't know when they show up at the pool or on the track.
Is the LZR suit "technological doping," as some have claimed? The record-setting swimmers have a lot to do with their own successes and no medals will be awarded to the swimsuit. It won't even be available to the public until October after the greatest product introductory tour of all time. If the claims of the manufacturer are correct -- that the LZR reduces the water's drag against the swimmer's body by 10% and increases oxygen efficiency by 5%, I think the inflexible girdle-like suit should be up on the winner's stand as well. The athletes are good. The LZR is better.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics has boasted that it will be as inflexible and girdle-like as the LZR. It will certainly claim to be drug free. The Chinese Olympic Committee has already banned some of its nation's athletes for life because of failed drug tests. It will be harder, as Beijing would want, to ban political dissent in the minds of the world's competitors. Beijing would prefer the Games to be human-rights free, and it has banned the expression of contrary political opinion, basically the status quo for the Chinese regime. We have had Olympics like this before, and hopefully this year's version of Jesse Owens, Tommie Smith and John Carlos will show up in China.
It is easier to reshape the human body into aerodynamic missiles flying through the water then it is to reshape the human mind and soul into a pliant tool, although many countries, including our own, have worked hard to achieve a placid nonchalance in the face of a disturbing reality. If only we could stop all wars for the period of the Olympics, as the ancient Greeks did. And, while we are at it, we should stop all hunger, all disease, and oppression. Now there is an Olympic aspiration!
The LZR suit is a wondrous metaphor for the confusion of our time. We provide fantastic technology in order to drop sport records. We develop new ways to test whether our athletes have ingested or injected pharmaceuticals they took to drop sport records. We want our Olympic athletes to be "swifter, higher, stronger," not "kinder, gentler, or more humane." We develop weapons of mass destruction in order to destroy other weapons of mass destruction. And what we do best (especially bloggers) is pontificate.
I want one of those LZR suits if it will speed peace talks in the Middle East, stop murderous acts in Darfur, increase the production of food worldwide, end the scourge of HIV-AIDS and malaria, and allow every human on this planet to enjoy life to its fullest. The Olympics brand stands for world harmony, but certainly will not achieve it this summer. There is always hope. Maybe equipped with a LZR suit, Robert Mugabe will retire from being dictator of Zimbabwe and participate in the Senior Olympics? Speedo, please send one to Harare.