Existentialist warrior and unique Ethics Alarms commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod’s Comment of the Day on the post about the NFL’s requirement that all teams hire a “minority” assistant offensive coach in the pursuit of “diversity, equity and inclusion” marked the first mention here of the Matthew Effect, often loosely summarized to explain why, as the song says, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
Here it is; the triggering post is “First Vice-Presidents And Supreme Court Justices, And Now NFL Offensive Assistant Coaches.”
Although I agree with most of the sentiment, I should clarify something about this point: Jack wrote:
“In other words, they must receive remedial training because they would not have been hired based on their experience or demonstrated skills.”
Highly competitive fields such as sports, entertainment, business…–okay, basically all fields on this inhospitable planet–are subject to the Matthew effect. . With multiple stages of competition, extra opportunities early on lead to exponentially more opportunities at each subsequent stage, due to the greater experience and exposure attracting more mentors and benefactors.
If you’ve read Freakonomics, you may be familiar with how hockey players’ birthdays are all around the same time of year. Based on the birthdate cutoffs for when they started school, they would have been the oldest students and therefore the biggest and strongest, and therefore they received preferential treatment from coaches looking to build competitive teams. Each year their greater experience and skill due to the previous year’s preferential treatment led to more preferential treatment, et cetera. These advantages added up over the years until they became professional athletes.
If we assume that a person’s minority status prevented them from getting any breaks early on, it makes sense that people would want to give them preferential treatment after the fact to make up for it. Those people would not assume that their current lack of skill represents an innate lack of talent.
As I understand the idea of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (as intended, if not as implemented), if the people running the show are all from the same ethnicity, they may not understand enough about other cultures to make their institutions cater to those people, effectively locking them out. Part of the point of diversity, then, is to make it so there are enough different cultural backgrounds among the people calling the shots so that the institutions they run will cater to all cultures, and so if someone gets no opportunities, it won’t be because of their ethnicity or cultural heritage.
I can at least respect the idea. I’m not a competitive person, so I don’t have any great insights into how one would make the competitive process more ethical. However, I imagine it would involve identifying and overcoming obstacles to smooth interactions between people of different backgrounds. That should make it easier to judge people based on the criteria of the field itself.
Does that make more sense?