Imagine what would happen if we fired all of our professional sports referees and umpires, and replaced them with sports politicians. At present, we train our sports officials to apply a set of "absolute rules" to athletes while they compete with one another to achieve winning records ("success"). Sports fans willingly and enthusiastically pay their money to watch athletes strive to better their opponents, while making lots of money in the process.
Sports officials are not asked to affect the outcomes of these contests; but rather, we ask them to apply the rules fairly and penalize all who violate these absolute rules. Once sports is politicized, we the spectators could begin voting in sports politicians who would better reflect our personal views of fairness and just standards.
Some of us believe the disadvantaged (or underdogs) should get calls in their favor. We would empower the sports politicians to equalize the contests. In basketball, maybe some players could keep shooting free throws until they make two baskets. The politicians wouldn't call fouls on smaller players when they manage to knock over bigger players.
In baseball, we could electrically bring in the outfield walls on rollers when players with less power go to the plate. We could allow politicians to strap on ankle weights on the faster players, before they even have a chance to choose their bat. This would slow them down.
In football, the sports politicians could have the favored team kick off from the water fountains, ten to twenty yards beyond their end zone. When the lesser team sends its receivers down the field, the politicians could require the defensive linebackers and safeties to wait for his whistle before they are allowed to pursue the receivers. We could trust "fair" politicians to give the receivers, who needed a head start, plenty of time.
I believe the results of politicizing professional sports would be that player's salaries would begin to equalize, outstanding stars would be eliminated (or neutralized), and some fans would begin to accept "relative rules" as more fair and natural than "absolute rules." Of course, it wouldn't be long before some disgruntled fans would try to elect politicians who were against progress and wanted to turn back the clock to favor the more talented people.
Fans would quit talking about their favorite sports, their favorite athletes and their favorite achievements, because there wouldn't be any. Fans would also begin to get into hot debates and arguments about the "politics of the game".
After reading this letter, those of you who enjoyed this imaginative detour probably still love sports and hate politics. But if your sports ever become political, would you still love them? Try to imagine that some people would. It's easy if you try!
--Kenneth J. Wolf #43 (05/27/95)
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