There Has to be a Line


It is easy to come up with a situation in sport where the rules, maybe, shouldn't apply. Where maybe the lines are wrong. I find this puzzling sometimes because the actual definition of sport is to have boundaries (rules) that everyone understands and agrees to, but ok, I'll move on.

A common one nowadays (especially in sports which are as much a business as a sport), is to make the case that players who are injured should be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs to speed up their recovery. That way the fans will pay to watch them play again, the business will make more money, and everyone will be happy. No down side. Right?

Another example is something that came up in a Facebook Group I belong to recently. It was related to whether or not to allow boys to play with girls in junior sport. Some were for 'inclusion', some where against it. Some came up with examples of where it was allowed and had a negative impact, others contrary examples. Why not just let them play? Right?

But for any of these situations (and there are many others) there has to be a line. Somewhere. Don't follow? Ok, let's go through this.

Let's use the performance enhancing drugs example because, well, I don't want to get into the other one right now!

Let's say we allow drugs to help speed up recovery Only for good reasons. So what now?
  • for a really bad injury, sure, but how bad an injury does it need to be before it is ok? 12 months? 8 weeks? 2 weeks? 
  • what about an injury that reduces mobility and might cause a long term injury, but doesn't actually stop them competing? Is that ok?
Ok, let's assume we work out when it is ok. So what now?
  • if the rationale is for players who people want to watch, what about other players? Only the best player? 2nd best? Top 10? By who's ranking?
  • How good do you have to be to be allowed to do it? Or can everyone?
  • Is it a sliding scale of ages because older players are more likely to get injured?
Ok, let's assume we work out how good a player you need to be. So what now?
  • what sort of drugs are allowed? anything at all? Only something mild if the injury isn't too bad?
  • how long can the athlete use it? Do they have to stop after they start playing again? Or before?  Or a week before? A month?
  • if it is only for 12 month injuries, how long can you use the drugs? All 12 months? Only the first 6? Any 6 you want? Every alternate Tuesday? Full moons only?
Ok, let's assume we work out what sort of drugs and how long they can be used for. So what now?
  • what if that drug that helps recovery also helps other things? That isn't the original point, is it? But it wasn't deliberate, was it? Are you only allowed to use drugs that will help the specific injury that is keeping the athlete out of competition? Is there such a thing as that?
Ok, let's assume we work out the answer to those questions. So what now?
  • who monitors the injured athletes to ensure they are fulfilling all the little 'rules' which stop uninjured people from using this completely reasonable method of returning to health?
  • what sort of tests are used?
  • who makes the guidelines about which drugs and which dosages, are ok?
  • who registers all the players who are using drugs to aid recovery? 
What's the point? There has to be a line. It is either 100% legal all the time, or you have to work out a line. But what if you can't work out a line that would be effective at the point you want? Then which direction do you move that line?

You either allow anything (no rules), or you have the lines roughly where they are now, and you discuss them from time to time to ensure you have them right.


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