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  • This has nothing to do with physics, but - Racewalking. Here are the rules: Walk so that one foot

  • is always on the ground and keep your front leg straight.

  • In short, do a funny walk, really fast. There's also something funny about the rules, though

  • - the judges who determine whether or not a competitor is indeed "walking", are only

  • allowed to stand stationary at the side of the course and judge by EYE whether the competitors

  • APPEAR to be walking. You'd think that for a sport whose definition is so technical,

  • they'd appeal to all possible technology to enforce the rules.

  • So is race walking stuck in the dark ages? I mean, there are other sports that don't

  • allow referees to view replays, but when you think about the electronics of fencing, the

  • finish-line cameras of track and field, the touchpads of swimming, and the 3D ball tracking

  • and path-reconstruction of tennisrace walking judges, on the other hand, seem quite

  • pedestrian. They're even forbidden to watch from ground level or use such modern technology

  • as binoculars or a mirror.

  • So what's up with all this perambulatory red tape?

  • If you look carefully at slowmo footage or basically any photograph of racewalkers themselves,

  • you'll realize that pretty much everyone leaves the groundNot just occasionally because

  • of a push or stumble, which is allowed - but on almost every stride. In fact, it is WELL

  • RECOGNIZED by the racewalking community that most racewalkers regularly leave the ground

  • and may even be in the air up to 10% of the timeso EVERYONE is breaking the rules.

  • Now, there are plenty of arbitrary rules in sportbut the fact that most athletes break

  • the traditional DEFINING rule for this sport, is, to say the leastsurprising.

  • And this isn't like the suspicion that almost all professional cyclists are doping, because

  • unlike our constant struggle to test and catch dopers, we are well within the technological

  • means to catch "ungrounded" racewalkers. It seems clear that the technophobia in racewalking

  • stems from the fact that if racewalkers started using high speed cameras, they might no longer

  • have a sport.

  • And that brings into question the very essence of sport - because all games, really, are

  • just an arbitrary set of rules and limitations that we submit to for the purpose of having

  • fun and challenging ourselves. I mean, there's a reason that track and field forbids bicycles,

  • cycling forbids motorcycles, and motorcycle racing forbids rockets

  • Maybe those reasons are just as arbitrary as racewalking's ban on technologybecause

  • the goal isn't to keep your feet on the ground - it's to see who's fastest doing a funny

  • walk, just like triple jump is to see who can go the farthest doing a funny jump, hurdles

  • are to see who can run the fastest with plastic barriers in the way, and tennis is to see

  • who can hit a ball over a net the best, but only within certain carefully drawn lines

  • and with a racquet and not a paddle or hands or feet. Sport, ultimately, is not about the

  • sport, but about the players and their struggles. It's about how far we're able to push the

  • boundaries of human abilitywithin the boundaries set by the rules.

  • So is racewalking a sport in denial, desperately holding on to its past and blatantly refusing

  • to accept technological advances that in principle improve the judging of the sport, but in reality

  • shake its very foundations? I don't knowbut are racewalkers athletes? Most certainly.

This has nothing to do with physics, but - Racewalking. Here are the rules: Walk so that one foot

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B1 arbitrary ground walking funny tennis fastest

Is Racewalking a Sport?

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    Why Why posted on 2013/03/25
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