Introduction: Game Theory; Building the Elite Athlete; Scientific American Presents; by Mark Fischetti, Gary Stix; 4 Page(s)
At the ancient Olympics, the Greeks practiced the long jump. But no one really knew how long anyone jumped. Exact distance was a sketchy notion. As sports historian Allen Guttmann notes, a unit of length in Sparta differed from one in Athens. Comparison of performances from one competition to the next was impossible and bore no interest anyway to the sponsors of what were mostly religious and ritualistic events.
It wasn't until a few millennia later that modern sport made its debut, characterized by precise quantification of distance and time. The machine age began an era of standardization in sport, which prompted rules and regulations, timepieces, set-length playing fields, scoring systems and sophisticated equipment.