David Epstein's Lecture

Ted Talk

“Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, Stronger?”


In the last century there was a big progress of our athletes. So, there is a very simple question, and yet a very complex one: “Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?” Many people think that the nowadays athletes are much better than the ones in the past, but this is not exactly true.

First Reason

First of all, the technology has gone through an amazing progress for the last century. Thanks to this improvement, the conditions of all kind of sports got better.

Second Reason

There is another reason to the progress of the athletes. In the past, all athletes’ bodies had the same average type - medium height, medium weight, no matter which kind of sport. But that idea began to fade away as the sports scientists realized that rather than the average body type, you want very spectacular bodies that fit into certain sports, and athletes’ bodies became much more different from one to another.

Third Reason

This is not the end of the story. The changing technology and the changing body types are not all of it. The athletes have a different mindset than they used to. Have you ever seen a movie when someone gets an electrical shot and he is thrown across a room? There is no explosion in that situation. It happens because the electrical shot causing all the muscles to twitch at once and he is throwing himself across the room. He is actually jumping. This is the great power that contains the human body, but normally our access to it is very limited. Our brain limits us to prevent us from accessing all of our abilities, because we might hurt ourselves. But more we learn how this works, the more we can push it back, just a bit, in some cases by convincing our brain that we are not in danger by pushing harder.

I Chose This Subject Because...

Before this talk I have thought that the nowadays athletes are really better than the athletes in the past. I have seen their achievements and the huge differences towards the old ones. I assumed that mankind is actually getting better.
During Epstein’s talk I understood that I was wrong. The mankind hasn’t been improved. We haven’t got faster or better. We, you and I, the people of the world haven’t changed. The external parameters have changed: technology, body types and even our mindset. So actually the external parameters were improved, and by that our results got much better.

The presentor was David Epstein, who asked this interesting questition in Ted Talks. In the end David said that Changing technology, changing athlete’s bodies and changing mindset. Imagination in sport and understanding what the human body is really capable of have made athletes stronger, faster, bolder, and better than ever.