OneThirdEach (11 Jan 2004) shows one of my blind spots, badly. (Or is that baldly?!) The multiplicative formula I postulated in sports (or in life) --- performance = talent * training * toughness --- omits a huge factor: technology. What else to call steroids, hormones, transfusions, implants, and cork bats or other goosed-up equipment?
Well, I call them cheating, but maybe I'm an old fogey. My alma matres, Rice and Caltech, have honor systems that work. No proctors are needed to keep watch on students during tests. Papers aren't plagiarized. Closed-book limited-time take-home exams are commonplace. Nobody takes unfair advantage of fellow students by consulting reference materials or collaborating or taking extra time. Similarly, in postal chess any player who promises not to use computer assistance can be trusted not to.
What possible good is fraudulent behavior in a competition? Might as well take a short cut in a run, or tell lies to your logbook. The real point of any test is to measure your capabilities, to find out how well you can do --- not to "win" or set a "record".
Juicer is the name of a character class in some fantasy role-playing game systems. Juicers are players who rely on powerful, expensive drugs and nanotech mods to vastly enhance their physical and mental capabilities. They also have short lifespans --- a few years --- plus a tendency to psychosis.
Professional athletics seems to have turned into a less than honorable occupation, full of juicers. What's the solution? Scorn the cheaters --- and stop watching them.