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Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

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  • Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

    David Epstein: Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

    Provocative presentation.



    Published on Apr 29, 2014

    When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them.

  • #2
    Stronger maybe. Weightlifting for athletics, the use of steroids, etc. was something that only started in the 1970s. Any increases in speed are far more negligible and are probably due more to improved equipment and dietary supplements than improvements in training.

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    • #3
      I think the pharmaceutical industry has something to do with it...

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      • #4
        Better living through chemistry has been around for a long time. Look at the use of "greenies" as far back as the 1950's to the best of my knowledge. That however, does not explain all of it.

        Elite athletes are certainly bigger, or in the case of gymnasts smaller, to better accommodate the demands of their sport, as stated. But the size growth in some sports is remarkable.

        NFL lineman in the 70s ran in the 250s and 260s. Now it is tough to get a look if you don't go 300. Aside from incredible talent and skill, remarkable size also accounted for success over time. Look at Jimmy Brown, IMO the greatest back ever, who was not far removed from the size of the average lineman at the time.

        On the whole, it strikes me that the biggest enhancers of athletic performance are advances in the science and technology as related to equipment, training and personal body development. I am not surprised so much at the improvement as I am wondering where the limit of achievement will be in each sport/event.

        Regards,
        Dennis
        If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

        Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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        • #5
          In Rugby Union at all levels players are certainly bigger and faster than they were when I played. As a result there are more serious and even fatal accidents
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
            NFL lineman in the 70s ran in the 250s and 260s. Now it is tough to get a look if you don't go 300. Aside from incredible talent and skill, remarkable size also accounted for success over time. Look at Jimmy Brown, IMO the greatest back ever, who was not far removed from the size of the average lineman at the time.
            In this, a lot of it has to do with an increase in body fat. Ever since the '80s when offensive linemen started to be allowed to block with their hands (combined with an increase in passing) the need for mobility became subsidiary to the need to simply be an obstacle. Consequently the interior defensive linemen also put on weight to counter their ever-larger opposite numbers. In positions where speed is still essential (such as defensive end), the average weight is 'only' about 260 or so. Increases in muscle mass owing to better weight-training and supplements definitely accounts for some of the weight gain, but not all of it.

            Plus these days it's perfectly possible for a lighter man to be successful as an interior lineman if he has the strength and quickness necessary to get the jump on the opponent. One needs to look no farther than the Los Angeles Rams' all-pro tackle Aaron Donald for a prime example of this.

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            • #7
              Have you seen his belly? He ain't no lightweight.
              SPORTS FREAK/ PANZERBLITZ COMMANDER/ CC2 COMMANDER

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              • #8
                Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?

                Yes definitely!
                And may I add bigger and taller especially the women in our country, I am 6'2" and around 240# and in my younger days I was considered a big man, nowadays I am closer to average.
                Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dgfred View Post
                  Have you seen his belly? He ain't no lightweight.
                  At 6 foot 1, 275-280 pounds he's shorter and lighter than the position average nowadays. If you saw him walking down the street he'd look huge, but compared to his teammates on the defensive line he's on the smaller side.

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                  • #10
                    Some of it has to do in chemistry but there is also a better understanding on what the athlete eats and how they train to get maximum results

                    “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -- Albert Einstein

                    The US Constitution doesn't need to be rewritten it needs to be reread

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                    • #11
                      Throughout history people have gotten bigger as time has gone on. Charlamagne was considered a giant in his day and he was only 6 feet tall. The average height of European males in the mid 18th century was only 5'6" but is now up to 5'10".
                      “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'.”
                      ― Groucho Marx

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                      • #12
                        I was on a high school team that went to the state championships (1969 LaGrange). Our Fullback and one Halfback were bigger (taller and heavier) than three of our offensive linemen! Nowadays you can still find 5'6", 165 pound Guards and 5'10", 175 pound Centers, but how many make it to State?

                        The times have certainly changed at my old school. The student body went from brightly White to almost all Black. The White Students are still fleeing! There is only one public high school in town that is still (60%) White. All the suburban and rural schools are mostly White. Different ethnic groups can grow to different sizes. When I was in high school we were blessed with speed and enough size to be successful.

                        The local college has also got taller and heavier in some spots, but that reflects recruitment of athletes with speed across the board. The Quarterbacks went from 5'10" to 6' to now where the most likely Quarterback is 6'6"! As always the hard part is to find good offensive linemen.

                        Pruitt
                        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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