Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Final Four And Other Unfairness

While I'm not that much of a sports fan, Mrs. Dalai and I bid successfully on tickets for the Final Four offered by one of our favorite charities, Camperships For Nebagamon, and so we got to tick one more item off of our bucket list. (Still to come, not necessarily in order: Superbowl, college and professional baseball World Series, visits to Giza and the pyramids, Angor Wat, the Terra Cotta Soldiers in China, African Safari, Paris, Scotland, Ireland. And while I've been to Israel, Hawaii, and Australia, Mrs. Dalai hasn't, so our shared list includes these spots as well.)

Courtesy Kevin B. Cox,
I won't begin to analyze the Final Four semi-final and final games, as most any one of you out there could do a far better job of it than I. Still, we thought Michigan had a stronger performance against Syracuse than Louisville did against Wichita State, and we were a little surprised by the outcome of the final game. While we had no dog in the fight, as USC (our USC, not that usurper in California) has never made it into the Final Four, we did favor Louisville out of sympathy for the injured Kevin Ware.

There is nothing like seeing a sport played at the highest levels, even for someone like me who doesn't really appreciate the finer points of the game. I was somewhat surprised that the President, who is a very big fan of the game, didn't show for the finals. Mr. Obama does get all the nuances, I'm sure. But everyone understands this: there will be a winner and there will be a loser in each and every game. And no one seems to have much of a problem with that. It is accepted that in competition, the outcome is determined by some magical melange of luck, skill, timing, phase of the moon (the tides might affect the spin of the ball, you know), and Heaven knows what else. The Wolverines, while disappointed, haven't been quoted as saying that the Cardinals had some unfair advantage. Rick Snyder, the Governor of Michigan, who sat about 20 seats away from us, isn't calling Greg Fischer, the Mayor of Louisville, to chastise him over the loss, and request an equalization of the points scored.

Clearly, we all understand the concept of winning and losing, and the implied fairness therein. But somehow that feeling doesn't seem to translate into real life, which is essentially a series of competitions that pit one of us against another in some form or fashion. I had to compete with other applicants to get into college, then medical school, then residency, then to find a job. You could say I "won" these clashes, and others lost. My salary might therefore be higher than someone else's. The general feeling, at least among approximately 53% of the population, give or take a percent, is that somehow this is not fair, and my largess must be equalized. I must be forced to pay my fair share, although no one has bothered to define what my fair share really is, not to mention what makes this fair in the least. Fair has become the purview of the majority, and as the old saying goes, democracy lasts until the public realizes it can vote itself stuff from the public coffers. Which the public expects to be filled by the "winners" of society giving back points (I mean money) that was earned, well, fairly.

Was it fair that Louisville beat Michigan? From my vantage-point in section 116, about 40 rows up, I think so. But there are those who attribute the win to bad calls such as the foul called on the block pictured above. If we go there, however, we have to postulate some sort of bias on the part of the officials; otherwise, it's rather safe to assume an equal number of bad calls for each team. And maybe that is the origin of the fairness thing. All men (and women) are created equal, but the second we draw our first breath, that equality diverges into a zillion different directions. The outcomes of our various endeavors simply cannot be equal, and this angers a lot of people. It just isn't fair, they cry. But I say this: it wouldn't be at all fair to FORCE equality where it doesn't belong. Someone who is smarter and/or more clever than I am deserves to make more money and have more toys than I do. It's that simple. And that trickles down to those who had the luck to be born to those with those skills, in my humble opinion. Again, it is NOT the job of the government to equalize the outcome, only to remove impediments to the success of anyone and everyone with the ability to achieve it.

Congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals, who played hard and deserved their win and title, even with the unfair loss of Kevin Ware. I guess to be fair, Michigan's Trey Burke should have volunteered to have his leg broken as well, eh? That would have leveled the playing field... Fair is fair, after all.

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