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Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Updated: May 21, 12:16 PM ET
Sorry, but Oscar Pistorius has an unfair advantage

By Tim Keown
Page 2

Everybody gets a trophy. First place, last place -- doesn't matter. Everybody is a winner, everybody gets to play and it doesn't really matter what happens as long as you have fun.

Go to a Little League game sometime and watch the parents wearing the specially made T-shirts with their kid's name and number on the back. Kids are kids, and adults are kids. Child worship has created a generation of parents who go through life fearing rejection.

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius likely won't run fast enough to qualify for Beijing anyway.
Our kids can't fail, and they can't be exposed to disappointment. If our kids are disappointed, then we have failed as their keepers.

If they do fail, we'll just change the language of failure until it becomes success.

And oh, by the way, there's no such thing as a mistake. We now call that a good try.

We send them into the world with bellies full of self-esteem and nothing to back it up. Years of being conditioned to feel good about themselves with no accomplishments required eventually breeds a feeling of entitlement.

It's a culture of acceptance, and that's why it's an unpopular argument to suggest a guy with carbon-fiber legs shouldn't be allowed to compete in the Olympics. You don't win many points coming down against a legless runner.

This is not meant to equate South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius with a spoiled Little Leaguer, but it's symptomatic of a culture that is deathly afraid of excluding someone, for fear of hurting their feelings or being branded a bully or an elitist.

Pistorius won the right to compete for a spot in the Olympics -- even though he probably is not fast enough to make it an immediate issue -- after the International Association of Athletics Federations rightly ruled against him. The IAAF said his high-tech Cheetah prosthetics give him an unfair advantage, but the Court of Arbitration of Sport overturned that ruling Friday.

ESPN.com on the Olympics
For more coverage of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing, go to the ESPN.com Olympic sports page.

Should he be allowed to compete? Of course not. This really isn't that difficult. Pistorius is running on artificial legs, wonders of technology instead of flesh and bone. It's simply not the same.

If a legless swimmer showed up at a meet with carbon-fiber flippers, would that be all right? If a legless high-jumper used spring-loaded Cheetahs, would that be allowed?

The truth is, Pistorius has an event, and it's called the Paralympics. It's not an insult to him to suggest that he compete in that event rather than the Olympics. The Paralympians are amazing -- usually more amazing than their able-bodied counterparts.

Pistorius is a fantastic athlete, and his story is a hell of a lot more gripping than the average professional athlete's. His accomplishments are vital; those of the able-bodied are merely inspirational.

So yes, it's a great story.

Just not an Olympic story.

This Week's List
Because we're beginning to believe it might be the only thing he knows how to do: Somewhere, right now, Anderson Varejao is setting a high screen.

Hey, Mike Brown: I don't know the question, but I know your answer -- more high screens!

Now, if only they can teach Ray Allen to set a mean screen, play post defense and rebound, they'll be in business: P.J. Brown, who hit the biggest shot of the Celtics' season from about 20 feet in Game 7 against the Cavs, said afterward, "I wasn't brought in here to hit shots like that."

One of the best things about the NBA playoffs: The refs let so much go for so long, and then they get all huffy and bent out of shape at the first sign of things getting out of control.

Charles Barkley
Has Sir Charles placed his last bet? We doubt it.
The result? Flagrant fouls and technicals for everyone!

And where it stops, nobody knows: The NBA Player's Association is investigating whether Bill Duffy Associates acted improperly after an "Outside the Lines" report linked the agency to payouts to recruit O.J. Mayo to the firm.

And so the first person to sneak-shoot a photo of him betting $5,000 a hand and $500 for the dealer at a blackjack table in the next 12 months wins a prize, courtesy of The National Enquirer: Charles Barkley, in response to the report that he owed Steve Wynn $400,000, said on TNT, "I am not going to gamble anymore. For right now, the next year or two, I'm not going to gamble."

Just for the heck of it: Tom Boerwinkle.

Inside the strange world of the myopic fan: When it comes to Patriots fans and their devotion to Bill Belichick, any contrary opinion is simply jealousy, because the Patriots are winners -- no, we are winners -- and the rest of you just wish your coach was as smart as ours and as good at cheating.

The other good one, favored by the all-caps e-mail group: Everybody's doing it, so why should Belichick be singled out?

Spasm or cheap shot? Only a doctor can tell: When David West was clipped in his injured back by Robert Horry in Game 6, the announcer said, "You get one of those spasms …"

And finally, now that Rockies versus Twins has finished exciting the masses: How about we turn interleague play into the Olympics -- you know, once every four years -- so we can keep it fresh?

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.