I've been thinking about....Equality
Published July 29, 2021
By Joe Mavretic
The Olympic Games are upon us and I’ve been thinking that they are a world-wide reminder of the inequality of humans. These games divide the planet into winners and spectators-those who can participate and the rest of us who cannot. The games themselves demonstrate the inequality among participants with some winning medals and the remainder having nothing but memories. Each event measures inequality in inches, or seconds, or points, or touches, or some other arbitrary unit…and we glorify the most unequal. Sport is about marvelous inequality.
Sports are the American metaphor. We devote entire newspaper sections and television segments to the inequality of athletes and their teams. Billions of dollars are spent on nothing but the outcomes of inequality. The inequality of sport is exciting, creates love and hate, can even start a war. So, why is inequality in sport so admired and so despised in society? Perhaps, like so many other notions, we are hesitant about going back to a beginning.
America’s beginning may start with the notion that “All men (humans) are created equal.” There is a fundamental problem with that belief because creation has at least two inseparable parts. The creation is equal (the union of an egg and a sperm) in that all humans are naturally conceived this way. We also know that at the instant of creation a unique human begins from two separate strands of DNA. Each of us is equally created unequal.
The equality of natural human creation separates us from trees and flowers and stones. The inequality of humans has given us our glory. It has also brought us our current despair. We may want to be equal, but we cannot be equal. Inequality is in our DNA. We are who we have become because we are destined to be different. In most activities, the more unequal will prevail and be rewarded.
As the Olympic Games unfold, humans of all shapes, sizes, sexes, and skin shades, in unique uniforms from different countries, speaking different languages, will measure their individual inequality against their competitors for gold, silver or bronze. Laurels go to the most unequal.
Olympic team sports are simply aggregates of individual inequities. Goalkeepers cannot be equated to strikers. By definition, forwards are not the same as guards. Track and swim relays are described by the inequalities of each team member. Olympic team losers are just not equal to the winners…except for chance.
Chance in the Olympic Games, and in life, is a matter of religion. Call it what you choose…chance/fate/the gods/luck…occasionally trumps inequity. A broken shoelace or a fractured shaft eliminates a sure winner…just by chance.
The Olympic Equestrian Games are a separate phenomenon. They are the only competition that combines an unequal human on an unequal animal against other similar teams. It is the single Olympic sport in which blood lines and breeding contribute to the dialogue of the competition. Even if you are outside the world of sires, dams, leg control, and flawless changes of lead through trot, watching a world class horse-human team is a marvelous experience. However, for most people, watching the equestrian events is interesting, but not something with which they are familiar… like gymnastics or track and field. Running, jumping, throwing, catching, rolling around on mats, and playing with sticks or balls on fields, are parts of our childhood. Winning and losing in our childhood games has taught us our personal inequalities and the inequities that surround us.
Every four years the Olympics give us an opportunity to enjoy inequity at the highest level in sports. We can appreciate the winners and sympathize with the losers while respecting the effort of all. If we can do that in sports, why is it so difficult to accept the inequalities of each other?
E Pluribus Unum