Tuesday, 2 September 2008

On beta blockers and competition

The Atlantic has a fascinating article about beta blockers, and whether they should be used in sports that involve pressure, or to calm the nerves of, say, musicians and surgeons. Or, as the article asks, "Should we reward the shooter who can hit the target most accurately, or the one who can hit it most accurately under pressure in public?"

Implicit in that, I feel, is the question of whether sports should be treated any differently from other areas of human endeavour. If a beta blocker helped a nervous surgeon or musician be top-class performers in their fields, I'm guessing that more people would feel comfortable with that than if a beta blocker helped an archer steady her nerves during a tournament. But why should that be the case? Are competitive endeavours inherently different?



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