A little TED for thought – “Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?”

David Epstein has a pretty cool job.

Currently over at ProPublica, Epstein is a sports science reporter. These are the folks who report on the biomechanical, physiological, techy side of sports like in-depth mathematical analysis of Tiger Woods’ golf swing…or the existence of Michael Phelps’ ankles.

Epstein is also author of The Sports Gene, which is kind of like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers but in the end just goes there and says it: Some people are just born with it.

Still, does that mean every time we saw the world record line trailing behind Usain Bolt or when Shaun White landed the first Games-time double cork, what we were really seeing was human evolution in action? Are humans just being born faster, better, stronger—or can elite performance still be learned?

Short answer: It’s complicated.



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