Although apocryphal concerning its authenticity, we have all heard that saying about the first year of Harvard Law School. The saying is often ascribed to Harvard Dean, Christopher Columbus Langdell in the 1870s. The saying goes something like this with regard to incoming freshmen at Harvard Law School, "Look to your left, look to your right, because one of you won't be here by the end of the year."
This axiom has been applied to countless other pursuits of a rigorous nature. That said, it can also apply to many aspects of life through a societal lens.
With regard to the great sport of powerlifting, this saying (look to the left, look to the right) can also apply, but not for the sake of seeing something through. Although universally founded in the 1950s, powerlifting has its mighty roots of strength and power that can be traced back to ancient Greece. So the essence of strength and power and the organization of this harvested muscle into a competition or sport is anything but new.
Pick it up, put it down, repeat, and over time the weight of the implement and amount of times it can be hoisted should increase. The goal is to test one's mettle against another, be the one hoisting the most weight. Although there are many methods toward that end, this is the essence of powerlifting.
The sport is what it is, and as long as there are those wanting to compare their strength and power to another, it will always continue to be what it is. What is wrong with powerlifting? Nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong with the sport in and of itself. Powerlifting is what it is. It will be what it will be, and that is simply that.
Now, let's reflect back to Dean Langdell's statement, "Look to the left and look to the right….". When you do that you see other humans at each side and within their humanity come all the flaws. Flaws that come with all humans like their mistakes, missteps, misinterpretations, miscalculations, lapses in judgment, lack of experiences, lack of understanding, pettiness, petulance, and the list goes on and on.
So to know what is wrong with powerlifting, merely look to your left and look to your right and one of these three people is a part of the answer. I submit to you that the sport itself, its equipment, its rules, etc., are just fine. That said, what someone to your left or your right does with regard to things such as equipment, rules, etc., constitutes what is wrong with powerlifting. Stated another way, the collective "we," the collective humanity around this great sport is what is, has been and will always be what is wrong with this great sport of powerlifting.
The rules are the rules, but when judges, for instance, allow for uneven lockouts, high squats, hitched deadlifts, or inconsistent judging, those mistakes should not be a reflection of anything wrong with the sport, but more so an accurate reflection of the fallible nature of humankind.
The sport of powerlifting does not post on social media, the sport of powerlifting does not point out the shortcomings of others, the sport of powerlifting does not make negative comments for the sake of likes and affirmation due to its low self-esteem, the sport of powerlifting does not shave squats high and award undeserved white lights at its competitions. The sport of powerlifting is a perfect, unflawed, and massive slab of granite, and any and all flaws to it is caused by the humans carving and chipping away at it. What is wrong with powerlifting is what you see when you look either to your right or to your left.
Do you want to improve the sport of powerlifting? You can't. It has no flaws.
Do you want to improve how the sport of powerlifting is run? Start by improving yourself as you too are either to the left or the right of someone else.
In closing, I leave you with this maxim,
"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him." —Mahatma GandhiMahatma Gandhi
Wishing you the very best in your training and powerlifting journey. Ever Onward.
Eric Maroscher is the owner of the Monster Garage Gym. Cofounded by Phil Daniels, NFL Defensive End, Monster Garage Gym is a premier powerlifting gym in the United States. Eric is the leader of the Maroscher Powerlifting Team, a two-time WPC World Powerlifting Champion, two-time APF National Powerlifting Champion, WPC North American Powerlifting Champion, and a multi-time APF Illinois State Champion.