Tag Archives: Conor

“Fairness” in sports

My brother Conor (when he’s not blogging about political theory) does some excellent writing about Barcelona’s dominant football team. A couple weeks ago, he took up the age-old topic of fairness in sports in the context of European soccer. In most European leagues, there are no salary caps, revenue sharing agreements, or redistributive drafts. Rather than coddling the worst teams, leagues bust them down a division. Conor defends the uncontrolled European league structures with a call to the benefits of an aristocratic class:

There’s no escaping it. [Barcelona’s] degree of perfection requires an unequal distribution of talent and resources. This concatenated brilliance is probably unjust when measured against nearly any standard of fairness—but it’s also as close as anyone has yet come to fulfilling that specific style of play. FC Barcelona are but one example. For instance, recent Chelsea squads have flirted with perfection of a wholly different style of play. They are no less aristocratic simply because they have refined different aspects of their squad. Their strengths may be different, but they are no less refined for that. Every coat of arms is different—the aristocratic task for each is to live up to their particular identity. Undemocratic though they are, no one will mistake them for ordinary.

For whatever else they do to The Game As A Whole (or As A Spectacle), aristocratic clubs elevate the stakes and—more often than not—the peaks of athletic achievement. If Barcelona regularly administers whippings to clubs in La Liga’s middle and lower echelons, their clásico jousts with Madrid have periodically taken both teams yet closer to the pinnacle of sport.

I find this topic endlessly interesting, especially the comparison between United States leagues and European leagues.  The United States redistributes less income proportionally than many other Continue reading

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Football riddle response to tide you over until 1pm

On Monday, I posted the following riddle:

Suppose you are Tim Tebow, up 2 points with 25 seconds remaining in the game. You have the ball on your 5 yard line, 1st and 10, and the Raiders are in town (meaning that Sebastian Janikowski can hit a field goal from Mars). The Raiders have all three timeouts. You may assume that any punt will not be blocked. Without gaining a first down, how do you assure victory?

Turns out that Tebow had some more important riddles against the Patriots, like how to run against a disciplined defense that has seen your option before, or how to throw the ball in the cold (he was 9-26!), but let’s go through the best answers I got for the situation above. Continue reading