Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Sport will get boring – hooray!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-08

A research paper at PLoS gives the great news that sport might become boring soon.  That’s great news – maybe if people paid less attention to sport, and as long as they didn’t turn to celebrity gossip, the world might become a better place.

"The Citius End: World Records Progression Announces the Completion of a Brief Ultra-Physiological Quest" (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001552, 2008-02-06) looks at the sigmoidal curve of world records, assumes this reflects metabolic capacities of the human species (without genetic modification), and calculates that half of quantifiable olympic and world records will not be broken from the late 2020’s.

Well, at least this is outside the window Rudd’s gabfest will be looking at.

From the paper:

World record progression rate follows a piecewise exponential decaying pattern with very high accuracy (mean adjusted r2 values = 0.91±0.08 (s.d.)). Starting at 75% of their estimated asymptotic values in 1896, WR have now reached 99%, and, present conditions prevailing, half of all world records will not be improved by more than 0,05% in 2027.

Hyperbole from sports commentators at Olympic events, suggesting that sport is the pinnacle of human achievement (forgetting that humans compare unfavorably to beasts on the track and in the pool), will either have to shut up, or come to the conclusion that human advancement has stalled.  Maybe then, to stop pessimism, people will look to worthwhile human achievements, … scientific advances, improvements in human welfare.

Mind you, it’ll only encourage old codgers in nursing homes to go on about "in my day….".


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