Money vs. Sportsmanship

In the wake of Speedo’s new LZR swimsuit and a rash of cries of unfairness, questions are being made as to the base nature of swimming as a sport.  Are Olympic competitions in swimming driven by the skill and effort of the individual alone, or do other concerns play a part?  Obviously the Olympic committee wants to be as fair as possible regarding the rules and the way each race is carried out, but who determines which suit you wear?  If not for endorsements, contracts, and the money that gets dropped into Olympic coffers, wouldn’t you just simply wear the suit that helps you to be the best you can be?  Why wouldn’t everyone just wear the LZR?  If it is a technologically advanced suit, or even a buoyant suit, should that be considered cheating?  Don’t we continue to break Olymic records of the past as competition increases?  Is this not an extension of that competition?

I’m not saying that I want swimming as a sport to become something like racing.  Sure, in racing there is a great deal of skill involved, but there’s also heavy technological reliance on the machines being used.  Both skills and machinery work together, I would say equally.  In swimming things are a little more one-sided.  If I put on the LZR, I’m still not going to win the Olympics tomorrow.  But it could certainly mean the difference between a silver and a gold, if not more.  And if it is so important, wouldn’t all these other manufacturers (Arena, Adidas, Descente, Diana, Nike, and Mizuno) all want to develop their own answer to this new faster, better suit, rather than crying wolf to the Olympic Board?

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