Athletes: Now vs. Yesterday's

Hey all, i’m doing a paper on how today’s athlete’s are superiror to yesterdays’s athletes. Are there any paticular readings anyone would suggest?

I wouldn’t say today’s athletes are ‘superior’. Today’s athletes are physically stronger due to improved training methods and supplements, but I think most of yesterday’s atheltes would rule in terms of raw animal drive and natural athleticism.

Seeing you are a kickboxing fan, there was an interview with Steve Arneil in the Journal of Asian MArtial Arts in which he states that today’s fighters would slaughters yesterdays because of improved training methods.

I guess what i meant by superior was the bigger stronger athletes we are seeing, and while they are bigger and stronger some would argue that there mental ability doesn’t compare to athletes of decades ago. With records being broken by these new athletes all the time, what would everyone credit for that? Training methods? Science? Kinesiology?

Some observations:

  • Proper strength training and power training is now used by most athletes while only a minority of old-time athletes used this type of training, and most of the time it wasn’t optimal training.

  • More food availability. Yes there is more junk available than ever. However, good food is also easier and cheaper to obtain than back “in the days”.

  • Better sport supplements. Liver tablets and soy protein (which was the basic elements of most protein powders at first) vs. potent protein mixes like Grow! and top of the line supplements targeting specific area of sport performance (for example, the nervous system was forgotten for a long while before Power Drive, and now Spike became available.

  • Better designed nutritional programs. We now better understand how easy strategies like pre and post-workout optimal nutrition can make a huge difference in performance.

  • Easier access to sports and thus augmentation of the number of athletes. The more individuals you have involved in sports, the better is your chance of finding a genetic mutant or an hidden gem.

  • Better equipment. Tracks are now harder (faster sprints), superior material is used for making most pieces of equipment such as golf clubs, poles, skis, kayaks, shoes, etc.

  • More drugs … But this is hardly the most important factors. Understand that most “modern” performance-enhancing drugs were developped because old ones (which were just as effective) became easy to detect.

Thanks for the reply guys, it is interesting to compare yesterday’s athlete to today’s. For the most part athletes are evolving at a much greater rate then they were year’s ago.

You might want to check out “Super Athletes” by David Willoughby. It is out of print, but I got a copy via Amazon,just took awhile and is in many libraries. He lays out methodologies that seek to compare athletes across era’s to determine best in their discipline. The chapters on strenght athletes (Louis Cyr, Appollon, Saxon, Paul Anderson) make the whole thing worth searching for.
old dogg

I have to respond to what I see as a modern myth. Athletes of say 20 years ago were in many cases stronger than they are today. Take Weightlifting, Hammer Throw, Javelin, Women’s 100m and you have sports where the athletes were definitely stronger 20 years ago. I imagin that people will try using baseball to counter my argument. I would respond by saying that baseball just had Anabolic Steroids introduced late. I think that a more compelling, though harder to research, paper would be one chronicling the rise and fall of sporting results concomitant with the development of synthetic androgens and subsequent improvement in drug testing technology.

I’m busy right now but I’d like to add more to this thread later. This is something I have given quite a bit of thought to.

IMHO…I think athletes today are far more specialized that athletes in the past. Atheletes back then was more “complete”, did well in 4-5 sports or something like that, had lots of GPP.

[quote]CanadianCroCop wrote:
Hey all, i’m doing a paper on how today’s athlete’s are superiror to yesterdays’s athletes. Are there any paticular readings anyone would suggest?[/quote]

Philosophically speaking:

People are a product of their time…

Those athletes were top notch for their time period. The stuff that was available etc…

Simply stated:

Athletes now are… Bigger… faster… quicker… more powerfull…

No longer are lineman merely fat and just fill a hole. They are monsters running at you with 4.6 speed. Quarterback are no longer the string beans of the team… They are agile fast and surprisingly big.

Bigger, stronger, faster, more powerful, quicker.

-Get Lifted

An interesting read would be an article at inno-sport called Blast from the Past

It discusses/compares homerun hitters of today to that of the “golden era” more specifically mickey mantle.

Mickey hit one homerun 734 feet!! and in one game he hit two over 600. Basically the thesis is that athletes aren;t hitting the ball farther than before (no where close) but are hitting home runs wth more consistency