I recently stumbled upon a blog post criticizing how Tim Feriss, author of The Four-Hour Workweek, became the Chinese National Kickboxing Champion without knowing how to kickbox.
In Feriss’ bestseller, he describes how he took advantage of a loophole in the rulebook that disqualified competitors for leaving the ring three times. Basically, he dehydrated himself to drop a couple weight classes, gained it all back before the tournament and won his matches by pushing his significantly smaller opponents out of the ring.
Some would call it genius. Others, like in the article I first encountered, hold nothing but contempt. As I looked further into the story, it really got me thinking. The value of resourcefulness in unquestionable, but how far can you go before you become morally corrupt? Is it alright as long as you stay within the rules, or is there an unspoken code that you have to follow?
Sport is an art form, and society rewards those who perform well. Doing it the way it was meant to be done garners a certain respect that can’t be obtained through circumvention. But aren’t we being hypocritical if we claim that there is a “right” way to do things? Everything changes given enough time, yet the first sight of change often results in rejection. Only when it becomes commonplace do people begin to embrace it.
The same case could be made for politics, business, or even music. The bashing of singers relying on Auto-Tune is arguably justifiable, yet its usage has risen to the point where it has become the norm. Now, artists like The Gregory Brothers are garnering recognition for turning popular speeches into catchy songs. Are we at the stage where we’ve gotten so accustomed to it that we’re ready to move on and quell on the next strange thing that takes the practice out of skill?
Maybe Tim Feriss thought it was alright to snatch the dreams of hardworking athletes. I do think it was a remarkable feat, but whether or not he rightfully earned it is the question.