not fair?

So I open today’s Times and unsurprisingly there’s stuff in there about the World Cup, including even an editorial. The editorial got all philosophical and started musing about who should win the World Cup “if sport was fair, and championships were decided according to need rather than skill” – at which point I got into major quibbling mode.

I guess the question is how one defines fairness.

I can understand someone talking about, say, distribution of food in terms of it being fair to distribute it according to people’s needs. Food is the first example that springs to my mind, but more generally this could apply to all sorts of things that are necessary and where there’s a limited amount of stuff to go round. But championships? prizes? surely the only fair way of distributing those is according to skill shown through achievement, that’s the whole point of prizes! The teams in the World Cup have been putting huge efforts into training and will be giving all they’ve got in the games, and the whole idea behind this is that the team that plays best will be awarded for playing best. That’s their motivation – knowing that there is a reward for doing well. I fail to see anything unfair about that.

5 thoughts on “not fair?

  1. I think unfairness can creep in by various routes: bad refereeing, unequal provision of training facilities, transport or living accommodation for different teams or groups of fans or anciliary staff, unequal treatment of teams that infringe regulations in the run-up to a game, biassed reporting and commentary etc

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  2. well, yes, all those things can happen, but that wasn't the point the editorial was making. they were suggesting deciding the championship "according to need rather than skill" – that's what my quibble is about. I don't think awarding prizes in sport this way would be fair, I think awarding prizes in sport according to skill is fair.

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  3. That strikes me as the same kind of thinking that says education shouldn't have a grading system because it makes the underachievers feel insecure. It is an asinine philosophy that achievement shouldn't be rewarded because it makes it makes the others somehow feel bad and left out.

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  4. yes, that was the connection that my mind made too – let's give all the kids good grades because that way they will all go home with a nice warm feeling… and won't learn anything about real life, and won't have the slightest motivation to actually make an effort and do well…

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