Tag Archives: competition

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

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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

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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

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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.

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

Ethics Hero: Yankees Manager Joe Girardi

I don't believe I'm posting this.

It has come down to the final day of the season, with the (or as they are known in these parts, MY) Boston Red Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the final spot in the American League playoffs. The Yankees have been dominated by the Red Sox, their long-time rivals, most of the season, while the Rays have been easier pickings. Lo and behold, it is the Yankees playing the Rays, in a game that could determine who will be the Yankees’ opponents in the League Championship series.

The game is otherwise meaningless to New York, which has already clinched a play-off berth. At this point, a play-off bound manager’s job is to decide which marginal players will be on the post-season roster, to line up his pitching, and to steer clear of injury. Asked if he was bothered that Yankee manager Joe Girardi was surely not going to oppose the Rays with his best team, Boston Manager Terry Francona shrugged. He had earned the right to use the game to prepare for the play-offs, Francona answered.

Yet here was Girardi, starting a team made up of most of his regulars, replacing his pitchers as soon as they were in peril, and generally managing the game against the Rays as if it were the final game of the World Series. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Heroes, Leadership, Sports

Comment of the Day: “Dear God: Stop Calling”

The post about political candidates announcing that they have been “called’ by the Lord to run for high office continues to generate provocative, passionate and  perceptive responses, the latest from Glenn Logan,a blogger who covers the University of Kentucky Wildcats for their most discerning fans. Glenn’s comments here—sadly less frequent than they once were—are always thoughtful. Here is his comment on “Dear God: Stop Calling!”, putting to good use his expertise regarding competition of all sorts. I think you’ll agree that it is a most deserving “Comment of the Day”:

“Just because God calls us to do something does not mean that our effort will be successful, even if we do it the best we can. I would hope that most people understand this. Very often, it seems to be the case that the value, or the lesson, is in the journey rather than the outcome. This is pure assumption on my part — God has not seen fit to reveal his works to me, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.

“It is also possible that these worthies mistook their own desires as a call from God. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference, for whatever reason. If we forget, for a moment, that we are talking about politicians and just assume they believe what they say, this could be little more than a misunderstanding on their part.” Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Sports

An Ethics Lesson From the All-Star Game

It really is one of the most enduring sports deja vus—every year, sportswriters and fans engage in thousands upon thousands of words of complaint regarding baseball’s annual All-Star Game, the 2011 edition of which will occur tomorrow night in Phoenix. This year was no exception, and as is always the case, no consensus or conclusions were reached, except that everyone agrees that the game is mishandled, mismanaged, unfair and illogical in every possible way.

I have been thinking of the game’s plight as an ethics case study that proves a core truth: you can’t do the right thing if you don’t know your objectives, stakeholders, and how to prioritize them. In the All-Star Game as it has evolved, there are competing interests and stakeholders with no clear agreement regarding which takes priority over the other. It is literally impossible to do be fair: somebody always will be disadvantaged, and because there is no single objective either, utilitarian balancing doesn’t work.

It was not always this way. When the All-Star game was first conceived in 1935, it was intended to raise money for the players’ pension fund, the players then being generally paid little more than grocery clerks.  Since the game had to draw as much of a paying crowd as possible to make money, the rosters and starting line-ups were constructed to include the biggest stars and most popular players. It didn’t matter whether Babe Ruth was off to a great start or not: it wouldn’t be an All-Star Game without him in the starting line-up, so he was the right-fielder. Managers picked the team that they thought would both be the “starriest” and that would give them the best chance to win the game. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, History, Professions, Sports