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Can I dunk on Lebron? Let’s find out…

December 5, 2010

Recently we have discussed how John Stuart Mill argues against the Subjection of Women and stereotypes that are produced in society. What is important about Mil’s argument is not that he strives for total equality among all people (and genders), but that he argues for equality in opportunity among all. A woman may not be able to lift as much weight as a man on average, but if this woman is not given the chance to lift that weight, one should not make conclusions prior to proof that is given. An experiment in living is needed in order to determine facts about society in general.

During discussion the other day, we talked about competition and sports. An issue came up regarding how one defines “equal or fair” competition. If I play Lebron James 1v1, is it a pointless waste of time? After considering Mill’s ideas regarding giving one the opportunity before stating the facts, I came to the conclusion that despite the ridiculous difference in abilities, the competition is still valid because one does not truly know the outcome. The outcome can be expected, but there is a slight(SLIGHT) chance that I could even get a basket, in which case I still have the opportunity to win. After that win, though, a stereotype about my playing abilities can be made. If I then practice for years and play him again, I may improve upon my last appearance and warrant a different perception about my abilities. I think that even a competition that has a likely outcome should be played because without an open mind toward what is possible, it is difficult to fully progress and improve.

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Life a few hundred years ago was not better than it is today, and that is because people were given the opportunity to change and advance. The further one goes back in history, the longer societal changes and advancements took to take effect. Now, within a decade perceptions and stereotypes and cultural norms may change rapidly, and this is because society constantly has experiments in living. You cannot find out if something or someone is better or worse until it is put into practice. For progress and advancement, all people do not have to be completely equal, they just need equality in opportunity.

 

 

9 Comments
  1. mbhilton permalink
    December 6, 2010 11:44 AM

    That’s a good point that I think most people tend to not think about. People often give up on things because of their belief that the attempt is futile. If you think about all the people who pull off the ‘impossible’ it’s because they never gave in to the impossibility of it and faced the challenge head on, forcing their way to that slim chance at a better outcome. I forget who said it but the perfect quote for this is “Do me a favor, don’t tell me the odds.”

  2. eghat2 permalink
    December 6, 2010 12:50 PM

    I think that you have made some good points regarding equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity can definitely result in progress, based on your own example that you can play Lebron and if you do well (after much practice), you may break the stereotype you initially set. That stereotype being the idea that there is no way you can compete with him. This will then open doors for more women (and even men in this case), who initially thought that they had no hope, playing someone as skilled as Lebron. They will realize that they have this opportunity, and possibly take advantage of it.
    However, having the opportunity to play Lebron certainly does not mean that they will play as well, or better than him. As you explained, there is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. People certainly cant get upset when they find that Lebron can make what seems to be an impossible shot, and they can not. You have the opportunity to make said shot, but this opportunity does not give you the skill necessary to meet your goals of a good competition or win.

  3. saralustberg permalink
    December 6, 2010 2:05 PM

    Compared to some of the other posts on this blog about equal opportunities for success in competition, I believe this to be one of the best ones. I like how he discussed the changes and advancement of society and cultural norms, and how you don’t know which are better until you actually try them out. He connects the practice of trying thew things to versing Lebron James in a basketball match for instance, which seems like an impossible feat. You will never know if you are capable of beating Lebron until you actually try, and only at that point can stereotypical remarks be made about you. This post does a great job of explaining that nothing and no one should be judged until given a fair shot at their best attempt. The main ideas of this post relate very well to Mill’s attitude towards equality, not in that there should be total equality between everyone, but that there should be equality for opportunity for everyone.

  4. chrisbbarnes permalink
    December 6, 2010 4:34 PM

    I think the issue that you missed is not whether you should be allowed to play against Lebron James, but whether he should be required to play against you.

    If there is only a minimal chance of you beating Lebron 1v1, or only a minimal chance that a women could bench press 300 lbs, then why should society waste its recourses to create equal opportunity? What is the tangible benefit of equal opportunity in the face of inefficiency?

  5. xiaoyzhang permalink
    December 6, 2010 9:35 PM

    I believe that you are making the wrong argument here. In regards to sports, women have always had the same opportunity to succeed. There are a plethora of women sports at the collegiate and professional level. Look at the WNBA. As long as you are good enough, then you can make it. There are no restrictions holding you back if you are a female. I think the problem with womens athletics is that they don’t get enough coverage. However, that is mainly because men, at the collegiate and professional level, are more talented physically. People like to watch what is most entertaining and what can put out the best product. Therefore, mens athletics fits that bill and get more coverage.

  6. Jameson McRae permalink
    December 7, 2010 12:04 PM

    I think we can all agree that it is impossible to make all competition ‘equal and fair’, therefore why try? Although Mill would say that would must give everyone the opportunity to try and as you never know what you are going to get out of it, there could always be some benefit for you or future generations I would argue there is no benefit to anyone if you played LeBron. LeBron is a far superior player and you would be lucky to get any points, this is not benefitting you because you are playing competition way out of you league and you most likely wouldn’t be able to dribble the ball on him and same to LeBron who plays stiffer competition on a daily basis. It should not be LeBron’s obligation to play you in basketball because he gets no benefit and nothing is becoming more ‘equal and fair’ doing so. Everyone has a different athletic ability and you will never be able to create equality, this goes for men and women’s athletic ability also. Women’s sports to not draw as much national attention because they are not as athletically gifted as men, especially on the collegiate and pro level. You can see this trend in media coverage, nearly all of it being for men because women and men are not ‘fair and equal’ athletes. Men provide much better television through the excitement of the plays and ability of the athletes. It’s not men’s fault for being better athletes or the general publics fault for liking excitement, so why should we all suffer through watching women’s sports? What benefit does that provide?

  7. Eric Tellem permalink
    December 7, 2010 3:11 PM

    Though I think the point you are trying to prove is a very nice idea for people who are trying to do better for themselves, I think in all cases “the ridiculous difference in abilities” is the difference in whether the competition is in fact a competition. There may be that one time where a miracle happens, but in all cases besides those very few, the outcome is the same. I can tell everyone for a fact that I could not beat Lebron James 1 v 1 nor could I tackle Adrian {eterson. There is a limit for everyone.

  8. Eric Tellem permalink
    December 7, 2010 3:11 PM

    Though I think the point you are trying to prove is a very nice idea for people who are trying to do better for themselves, I think in all cases “the ridiculous difference in abilities” is the difference in whether the competition is in fact a competition. There may be that one time where a miracle happens, but in all cases besides those very few, the outcome is the same. I can tell everyone for a fact that I could not beat Lebron James 1 v 1 nor could I tackle Adrian Peterson. There is a limit for everyone.

  9. Jeff Safenowitz permalink
    December 7, 2010 9:37 PM

    This is a very interesting application of what Mill was saying. I agree that the idea of equality among all can support the notion of playing one on one with Lebron James. In a world in which there is in fact equality amongst all, everyone would get the opportunity to play against Lebron. This idea can be related to other facets of life. Mill would say that each person should have equal opportunity to apply for jobs or colleges. This could create a more competitive environment, and improve the workplace or school.

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