Sorry, but Oscar Pistorius has an unfair advantage   

Updated: May 21, 2008, 12:16 PM ET

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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

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

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. on the Olympics
For more coverage of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing, go to the 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.

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


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