Tag Archives: competition

Election Ethics Catch 22: The Necessary And Destructive Lie

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: "Don't worry, men! I believe we will win!"

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: “Don’t worry, men! I believe we will win!”

In the last 48 hours, both Joe Biden and Democratic Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told interviewer on national television, and thus the American public, that the Democrats would hold the Senate in tomorrow’s elections. Literally nobody believes this. News reports abound that Democratic pollsters and consultants don’t believe this. Polls show that Democrats are in for an epic clobbering that will give Republicans control of both Houses of Congress. Is there a chance this won’t come to pass? Sure there is: that why we cast real votes. But there is a big difference between “I hope our party holds the Senate” or “I think if everyone gets out and votes, we can hold the Senate,” and “We will hold the Senate.” The latter means “I honestly believe we will hold the Senate.” In context, it is either a statement of ignorance and delusion, or a lie.

Now with the track record of Biden and Schultz, one can never be certain that they aren’t delusional, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are lying. (They have track records in that area as well.) They are lying because they don’t really believe what they are saying, but feel they have no choice. This is the Underdog’s Dilemma. If anyone is going to care about a contest, neither competitor can concede or admit that it’s a hopeless mismatch. This is especially true for the leaders of  a team facing near certain defeat, and perhaps more true even in politics than in sports. Even when defeat seems inevitable, a candidate or his or her party’s leaders can’t admit it. Why would anyone bother to come out and vote when the object of the vote admits it’s a waste of time? The integrity of the system demands that the myth that anything can happen is kept alive until the final vote is counted. Sometimes, as we all know, the impossible upset happens. Truman defeats Dewey. Eric Cantor, a Republican heavyweight whose polls show him waltzing to re-election, gets beaten in the primary by some guy nobody ever heard of. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Leadership, Sports

Ethics Dunce: The Gwinneth Football League (Lawrenceville, Georgia)

"Us punish little boys playing football for scoring touchdowns!"

“Us punish little boys playing football for scoring touchdowns!”

Combine political correctness, the thoughts of Chairman Mao, incompetent administrators, kids and football, and this is the disgusting mess you get.

The Gwinnett Football League, a children’s sports program, allegedly fined one of its teams $500 and suspended its coach after an 8-year-old playing for the Lawrenceville Black Knights intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. In a normal sports league, run by sane people, where victory and achievement are appreciated, encouraged and celebrated rather than being stifled to allow losers to preserve their self-esteem when what they need is to be motivated to play better,  the child would have had a joyful, memorable childhood experience. Not in the Gwinnett Football League, however. The young player was to learn that his failure to realize that taking advantage of his opponent’s poor play was considered bad sportsmanship in this Bizarro World* league —cruel, unkind, psychically scarring—and would result in his team being fined and his coach being suspended. You see, the touchdown constituted an infraction of league rules, because the GFL has a so-called “mercy rule” that prohibits a team from throttling a weaker squad by more than 33 points.

The parents of the child protested that their son had no idea he should do. Miss the throw intentionally? Run it back the wrong way for an opposition touchdown? Beg the other team to forgive him? The parents of the rest of the team’s players insisted that the fine and suspension were far too severe….for, you know, playing football in a football game. Being fined and penalized for breaching an appallingly misconceived rule that nobody with the brains of an egret thought through? Yes, I think that’s a reasonable cause for complaint.

Hilariously, the president of the league, who must have risen to his place in life after his planned career as  pin setter didn’t pan out, told the media that news reports about the reason the team was fined were false.  Erik Richards said the team was fined because it made a “mockery of the game” in other respects besides running up the score: laying on the ground, running off the field and mocking the other players. He explained that the penalty for violating the mercy rule is “only” $100.

What the league needs is a fine for incompetent and irresponsible oversight of a kids football league: Continue reading


Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Sports

Ethics Quiz: Silent Soccer


The American culture’s grim determination to raise a race of wimps, weenies, hysterics and delicate snowflakes continues apace. Or is this a necessary adjustment to our growing incivility?

In Ohio, the Thunder United Metro Futbol Club, a kids’ soccer league, held an experimental “silent soccer weekend.” Parents and fans were told that there would be no shouting or cheering at the games. Clapping was permitted, but not whistling or using  noise makers. Team coaches were instructed to keep shouted instructions to a minimum. Printed signs and rally towels got a green light, since they are quiet.

The objective, of course, was to combat negative shouts and other demonstrations by parents and fans that might bruise youthful egos and squash self esteem.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today:

Is banning crowd commentary at youth athletic events responsible, or irresponsible?

Continue reading


Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Quizzes, Sports, U.S. Society

Reading Club Ethics: Punishing The Motivated And Successful In Hudson Falls

There goes Tyler, doing more than he has to and spoiling things for everyone else...

There goes that show-off Tyler, doing more than he has to and spoiling things for everyone else…

Some day in the less-distant-than-we-might-think future, when the United States is a gray, socialist country populated by millions of Winston Smiths and Julias, historians and sociologists, if there are any left, may well look back on the species of American represented by Hudson Falls (New York) Public Library Director Marie Gandron, and reflect upon how it proliferated, eventually taking control of the culture and permanently stigmatizing initiative and talent to achieve the current ideological Holy Grail of guaranteed equal outcomes.

Ms. Grandon thinks its unfair that the student who reads the most books in the library’s student reading club summer competition keeps winning the annual distinction of being honored as the student who read the most books in the library’s student reading club summer competition.

Following the immortal logic of those who regard rewards for superior performance one more injustice spawned by the oppressive values of the United States of America, she reacted to the annual triumph by 9-year-old Tyler Weaver, who just loves to read and who again lapped his fellow club members in the Summer Reading Challenge for the fourth straight year, by suggesting that the rules should be changed. In an interview, the library director said Tyler “hogs” the contest and should “step aside,” because the other kids “quit because they can’t keep up.”  She told the reporter she planned on changing the rules of the contest so that instead of giving prizes to the children who read the most books, she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way. Continue reading


Filed under Character, Education, U.S. Society

Unfairness in the Name of Fairness: Virginia’s Unethical Golf Rules

Liberty Anderson. Too bad they wouldn’t let her try to win fairly.

Lyberty Anderson, a junior at Manchester High School in Midlothian, Virginia, and undeniably female,  won the Virginia state boys Division AAA golf championship with an eagle on the final hole to capture the 36-hole tournament by one stroke. Lyberty is a terrific golfer, having demonstrated her precocious golf talents by winning women’s tournaments before she was in high school. Nonetheless, the boy’s tournament was outrageously slanted in her favor, and against her male competitors, tainting her victory.

Lyberty won, but she didn’t play the same course as her male opponents. She was allowed to tee her drives up on the shorter women’s tee, meaning that while the boys had to play a 6,653-yard course, hers was more than 1,000 yards shorter, almost 20%.  As Washington Post sportswriter Fred Bowen pointed out, Lyberty can’t be blamed for this: she played by the rules, and played as well as anyone could ask. She now says if she competes in the boys tournament again next year, she’ll tee of from the same spot as her competitors. That shows she understands fairness. Continue reading


Filed under Gender and Sex, Sports

Olympics Ethics, Fair Competition and Ick

Try as I might, I can’t find anything unethical about  the U.S. basketball team throttling Nigeria by the humiliating score of 156-73, the worst wipe-out in Olympic history.

Was the U.S. running up the score, which would be poor sportsmanship? No. As USA coach Mike Krzyzewski pointed out, he held back his best players once the outcome was certain. Every player he put in was hitting the basket with frightening consistency. Should the team have let up, gone through the motions, or allowed the Nigerian players some easy hoops? No. That would be an insult, and a breach of the integrity of the game. The U.S. Olympians had a duty to play their best. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Etiquette and manners, Sports

A Worm In The Culture: Warped Competition Ethics

I'm sorry, Serena, but you're just too good to be on the tennis team. We've decided that you should be on the chess team.

It is difficult for me to comprehend the kind of thought processes that Southampton (New York) High School to ban student Keeling Pilaro, the only boy on  the school’s field hockey team, from playing this season because he is too good at the game, which he learned as a child in Ireland.  I do know their logic is unethical, un-American, and unfair, at least as unfair ought to be defined in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“They told me I wasn’t allowed to play because I had advanced skills that I learned in Ireland,” Keeling told  local TV reporters. “They told me because I have an ‘adverse effect,’ but they didn’t even explain what the adverse effect was, so that’s what I’m kind of confused about.”
The executive director of the Suffolk County field hockey organization told the local Fox affiliate that the boy was being banned because field hockey “is a girl’s sport.” “When a boy plays,” he explained, “it leads the way for other male players to come in and take over. “[Keeling is] having a significant adverse effect on some of his opposing female players. The rules state he would be allowed to play if he wasn’t the dominant player.”

“Adverse effect,” in field hockey-speak, apparently means an unfair physical advantage, danger to opponents,  keeping a girl from getting more playing time or taking away from a female’s ability to garner postseason awards.

Ah. So we’re talking about discrimination, then, are we? Just so we have our terms straight.

If the woman’s movement has integrity, and it often doesn’t, we would see women protesting this indefensible treatment of the sole male player on a female team. The only field hockey team in the school is the girl’s team: Keeling, by the same principles of fairness and equal opportunity that have been enforced to allow girls to try out for boy’s wrestling, football and baseball teams in high schools and colleges around the country if they have the skills to make the team, should have every right to play on the only field hockey team there is, and not be penalized for his superior skills. Have authorities ever kicked a girl off a field because she was too fast, too strong, too skilled, too good? Would they? I certainly hope not.

Imagine if Ted Williams, LeBron James, Joe Montana, Bobby Orr and Serena Williams had been kicked off their high school teams because they dominated. What kind of Maoist, mediocrity-rewarding, excellence-stifling values is Southampton High trying to infect the nation with by penalizing high performance and achievement? Apparently they don’t understand the nature of competition, which is a serious handicap for a school, and a malady that should not be passed on to a single student. The outstanding competitors make every other player better, unless a player doesn’t want to make the effort, doesn’t have the character to accept that one doesn’t have to win to achieve something important in a contest, or is playing for the wrong reasons. I remember that I was once admonished by a stage director of an amateur production that I was too skilful and experienced for the rest of the cast, and was making them look bad. I was aghast then, and that conversation makes me angry even now, decades later. “Tell them how to be better, then, ” I told her. “Because I’m sure not going to try to do any less than my best.”

We have to decide if we’re really serious about gender equality or not. Keeling is not bigger than the girls on his team, and he doesn’t have a beard and 18 inch biceps. There are two things different about him, and two things only: he is really good, and he has male genitals. I thought the lesson of the women’s movement was that one’s genitals shouldn’t matter, that what mattered was whether you could do the job. Or does that rule only apply to female genitals?

I can certainly understand, if not the logic that is stopping Keeling Pilaro from playing the sport he loves, where the seeds of such illogical logic come from. The seeds come from the bizarre regulations that allow women to be firefighters with upper body strength that would disqualify male recruits, and female soldiers to be certified as combat ready without having to meet the same requirements as a male soldier. They come from affirmative action. When equality doesn’t mean equality in our nation’s increasingly warped, discrimination-is-fairness culture created by regulators, activists and bureaucrats, “Through the Looking Glass” decisions like this one, telling a player he’s too good to be eligible for the team, can begin to make sense.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair, it’s not healthy, and if one applies Kant’s Rule of Universality to it, we end up with a nation of gray, where, as the old Chinese proverb cautions, “the protruding nail will he hammered down.” No more Babe Ruths, no Dana Torreses; no David Beckhams, no Michael Jordans, no Carl Lewises, no Muhammad Alis, no Tiger Woods. And also, as this infection spreads, no Meryl Streeps, Thomas Jeffersons, Thomas Edisons, Eugene O’Neils, or Barbra Streisands. After all, we mustn’t make the less talented and accomplished look bad, feel bad, or make them have to aim higher and work harder to achieve their dreams. It’s wrong to excel. It has an “adverse effect” on those who can’t or won’t.

We all have a stake in whether Keeling Pilaro gets to play field hockey this fall.


Filed under Education, Gender and Sex, Sports, U.S. Society