Discriminating against man, animal and machine

By Andrew Ross

Like most people, I am disappointed with the International Olympic Committee for the way they have expanded their definition of what an Olympic event is and who is allowed to compete in the Olympics. Unlike most people, I am dissappointed because the IOC has not gone far enough.

First of all, there is the question of what activities should or should not be featured in the Olympics. Many people were upset when it was announced that chess would be added as an exhibition event.
I said it was about time the Olympics recognized what has often been touted "the highest of games." The opponents of chess complained that the Olympics are about athletic competition; they moaned that chess was not a sport.

Unfortunately, they missed one important point: it’s the Olympic Games, not the Olympic Sporting Events. While I certainly wouldn’t call chess a sport, it is definitely a game; hence, it should at least be considered for the Olympics. Detractors claim that by allowing chess into the games, the IOC has started down a slippery slope, one which will lead to such activities as hearts, novel-writing, and eventually interpretive dance being added to the games.

While hearts-like every other game-should clearly be added, neither novel-writing nor inter-pretive dance will ever be in the Olympics. Why not? Because they are arts, not games.

A second disappointment is in the area of eligibility. While I was glad to see the IOC let professional athletes into the games, I had
hoped that they would go further. Take chess for example. Garry Kasparov will almost certainly win in Olympic chess, but anyone who knows chess knows that Deep Blue is a better player. Furthermore, everyone knows that even an average kangaroo, a hobbled cheetah, or a wounded dolphin could easily defeat any human athlete at the long jump, 100m sprint, or freestyle swimming, respectively.

But just because animals and computers haven’t organized themselves into nation-states,
we anthropocentrically exclude them from the games. Shame
on us.

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