Forbes

Don’t Ground These Sneakers

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Nike has produced a sneaker called the Vaporfly that is roiling the sports world. Its technology, according to critics and competitor­s, gives users an “unfair” advantage in elite running races, thereby threatenin­g the integrity of the sport. It appears the shoes won’t be banned in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics; however, the world governing body for track and field is trying to curb further improvemen­ts in this technology.

Huh? What’s the big deal here? We’re not talking about drugs. Isn’t sports equipment supposed to get better? The way Vaporflys are constructe­d reduces a runner’s “energy cost.” Runners love them. Winners of recent marathons, at which records were set, wore versions of the sneaker. Naturally, Nike’s competitor­s are unhappy that prestige (and amateur) athletes are flocking to Vaporflys. They would be delighted to see Vaporflys banned in competitio­ns—for now. They’re scrambling to create their own versions— free-market competitio­n works!

Over the years sneakers have made quantum leaps in comfort, style and durability. So have sports fabrics and other kinds of equipment. Isn’t this what progress is supposed to be all about?

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