APL has no connection to JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) but Athletic Propulsion Labs might as well have. They created a technological advanced sneaker that is so good, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has banned its athletes from wearing them. As detailed by Esquire Magazine, these shoes provided up to an increase of 3.5 inches on the vertical, thus providing an unfair advantage. While attempting to gain any competitive advantage is a great, there are other ways to circumvent the accusations of cheating.
The APL basketball shoes incorporate a propriety technology called Lock N’ Load that is essentially an insert for the forefoot. Once inserted, it allows the toes and the balls of the feet to jump higher with more force. These shoe inserts are spring loaded so once you land, the kinetic energy is stored and ready to be mechanically released at the next instance of jumping. Think of it as Oscar Pistorius and his blade runner limbs – the capability of storing and transferring energy that would normally be created from human power was deemed to be too great of an advantage. The NBA banned these shoes in 2010 and they never made it onto the hardwood floor.
Some people might balk at the idea of our society shying away from technological advances. While this might be true, using devices that increases athletic performance in a competition makes the sport less about the person, and more about how good one’s mechanical or electronic device may be. Sports is about human performance and the celebration of what a body can do. There will be limitations, but games and competitions are meant to showcase the good of humanity – not what we can invent.
Are we against technology and training aids? No, not when the forum is practice and healing and recovery. Use of things such as a weighted vest or even a respiratory that simulates high altitude allows the human body to become stronger, without having it provide an unfair advantage during competition. Nothing is better and more rewarding than knowing one’s blood, sweat, and tears allowed for success, be it on a personal level or greater.
With the warm weather upon us, it is time to make hay and put in the time and effort that will pay dividends when school is back in session and high school or college games start again. Remember to train hard and play fair because at the end of the day, it feels so much sweeter knowing you won on your won. With that said, train today, win tomorrow.