Can we make a simple blanket policy that patent-protected gear of any kind are automatically prohibited in races? I mean, if there's no performance impact, then it shouldn't be a problem for athletes to use some other, patent-free gear, and if there is a performance impact, it shouldn't get used.
Perhaps this could also negate the core issue of this article, as the impact on sports is arguably caused by the desire to sell such tech to mass market; but if the high-tech shoes can be sold to mass market only without an impact on competitions, then Nike can put in their shoes whatever shiny gadgets they want.
The cost was mentioned in that wikipedia page, but I believe they didn't mention that they need to be individually fitted and are single-use only.
Olympic athletes don't buy their own equipment, do they?
That doesn’t mean that there are no cost constraints on their equipment.
Also, AIUI, the governing bodies of individual sports which happen to be included in the olympics also govern lower-level competitions, under generally the same rules – because the Olympic competition is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport, not a different sport with a confusingly-similar name.
> Swimming? Who can forget what happened between 2008 and 2009...
I think it was Running magazine that did not find his amusing.
Would definitely make world cups more interesting to watch!!
Which sport would say no to all that sponsorship?
source: barefoot runner
> I don’t want a five-set final at the Australian Open thinking “Shit, I wonder if this result would be different if Thiem and Djokovic could swap tennis rackets? If only my guy had a different sponsor”.
A similar dynamic already exists in many team sports, where the elites can sign all the stars and smaller teams have to try and win with better drafting, coaching, player development, etc. And in these cases, fans often seem to love watching a less-privileged team overcome those challenges to win (see Leicester City or small college basketball teams like Oral Roberts as examples.)
That said, against the cost of racquets, each can buy -- or get from sponsors -- whatever racquets they want.
I think this still happens a lot in tennis, but this was a memorable one.
Some of the suits that Phelps and folks wore were just so stupidly cutting edge in terms of their effects on stroke efficiency. I think the world swimming organizations have done a better job of regulating here, but again it sounds like ALL sports are required to have their governing bodies playing a bit of cat and mouse to keep the playing field as even as possible.
This has always been the case in sports. I personally don't agree with setting some arbitrary limit on technology creating systems like Formula 1, which then becomes a race against regulations and who can most creatively push the rules & find workarounds.
The sport I know best is climbing, and the progression of gear over the past 50 years has enabled as you say STUPID HUGE gains in allowing the strongest athletes to push the envelope of what's possible. I can't imagine having to climb with old gear and shoes. Went from climbing in Converses with DIY pro to specialized rubber on shoes with similar ideas to Vaporfly in how they shape the foot and have flex or not based on the route need. We now wear different shoes for different styles of routes.
Now knee pads are becoming standard which has downgraded some famous routes and upped the highest end grades. Some climbers just log 'without' 'with' grades I guess you could do that with running, but no one is saying Adam Ondra didn't climb the hardest route in the world because he used a knee pad and similarly I don't think it's fair to take away Phelp's achievements.
Even going beyond 'solo' nature of climbing, the technology is the same in competitions. Gear pushes the sport and I think that's a good thing.
Imagine some kind of glove that grips for you, or shoes with glue on the bottom. Or... there's no real limit here. Might as well just wear a hover belt and float to the top :)
At some point you have to say "this is enough tech". So the question is, what is that point?
And even if we go that far somehow I think the differentiation will come naturally. In climbing there is a totally separate thing called Aid Climbing where it's kind of like you say floating to the top haha. Pulling on ladders or whatever to completely eliminate strength and effort. It's not treated as remotely the same sport as free climbing.
You aren't allowed to bring your own soccer ball, basketball, football, etc. Why do we allow some items that have a huge impact, to be up to the player/team?
On the other hand, there are many championships where all drivers must drive the exact same car, or the cars are heavily regulated in terms of power output. Here it's all about the raw skill of the driver.
There is room for both of these in running.
Until recently, swimming advances didn't matter all that much. It's only in the last decade or so that the fabrics became better than the swimmer's skin, and they started covering up more of the body. That gave substantial advantages to swimmers with a ton of money.
(Substantial being relative, of course. We're talking 1% improvements, so you're not taking on Michael Phelps in one of these, even if he were wearing a ball gown. But it's the difference between gold and not qualifying for the final heat.)
Cycling similarly allows picking the bicycle frame to match the rider’s body. It does have a minimum weight for bicycles, though (6.8kg, which is high for current tech. Given deep enough pockets, 2.7kg was possible in 2010. See https://www.tririg.com/articles.php?id=1035_Worlds_Lightest_...), and regulations that effectively forbid recumbent bikes.
In some cases, flexibility also is there for historical reasons. In soccer, not even field size is fixed (with exceptions for top levels) for that reason (fields inside athletics tracks tend to be longer and less wide than fields inside stadiums specifically built for soccer)
A soccer field must be rectangular, but can be anywhere from 45 to 90 meters wide and anywhere from 90 to 120 meters long (https://resources.fifa.com/image/upload/spielregeln-2019-20....)
So, minimum size is 90m × 45m, maximum size is 120m × 90m. Area-wise, that’s a factor of 2⅔.
The list can basically go on forever. With no real "a priori" idea on where you have to stop to no longer find a benefit in equipment. Could even go back to "access to gym" or "access to trainer" and expect a level of influence.
For example, athletes from wealthy countries are exposed to better training techniques and apparatus. Is that fair?
That said, the equipment sponsorships are a major part of the equation, very expensive, and very competitive. I think it forms a larger part of the budget for less successful teams, where title sponsorship is less lucrative. And in any case, it's its own form of "title" sponsorship.. I'm not sure how much benefit Pinarello would get from being on the jerseys - everyone knows Ineos rides Pinarello.
But anyway, I think my point that this lucrative competition prevents standardization is valid.
Also the comparison with tennis is a bit silly... you won’t get far in tennis without a racket that costs a whole lot more than any Nike shoe...
I played tennis a little bit competitively when I was a kid, apart from rackets you will also care about strings, you will eat through them. The best strings aren't very durable and on top you will be often trialing different strings with your racket until finding a sweet spot for your play style.
It adds up fast.
I'd imagine this Vaporfly issue wouldn't be such a big deal if competitors were easily able to create similar shoes.
String tech, on the other hand, has continued to innovate in leaps and bounds, all but killing the serve-and-volley style of tennis at the elite level.
> If we did not believe that skill execution should be “constrained” by tennis rackets, we’d have no limits on head size.
There are oversized-head (tweener) rackets out there, but they are almost never used by advanced players (because you you have very limited control with an oversized head).
And basically PEDs is a lost cause, all they try to do now is contain it from frankenstein levels.
Is that unfair? Hard to say. Does it undermine what people appreciate about running and the competition? I think the author made a pretty strong case for 'yes, absolutely'.
Then I bought cheap insoles with arc support and the next run I was able to run 6k without any issue.
I'll never will be an elite runner. But at least I can go outside and enjoy a good sweat in the park time to time.
"And while on this subject of breakthroughs and records, please let’s not say stupid things like “We should just run barefoot”, or the common gaslighting method used by many that innovation has always been part of the sport, and the 2016 shoes were way better than Jim Peters and Roger Bannister’s shoes in the 1950s. Yes, but if you’re daft enough to actually entertain the debate about whether Kipchoge is a better runner than Jim Peters, great, but find someone equally daft who’ll have that one. I’d need ten beers for it to even seem worthwhile. Nobody cares. We get it, we expect innovation over many generations."
Talking about doping of course, legal and illegal.
This seems less about the integrity of running, and more about the integrity of winning.