Gladwell: Do Genetic Advantages Make Sports Unfair?

Tom Reading, Science 3 Comments

We want sports to be fair and we take elaborate measures to make sure that no one competitor has an advantage over any other. But how can a fantastic menagerie ever be a contest among equals?

It is a valid question, and a difficult one to answer. My hunch is that there’s a case-by-case approach: we have to have some rules to help even the playing field, but we “kind of know” what feels right and what feels wrong in terms of lucky genetic freaks versus direct subversion of the rules.

via Malcolm Gladwell: Do Genetic Advantages Make Sports Unfair? : The New Yorker.


Comments 3

  1. Serena Evans Post

    this is interesting & I would answer “yes” – though I’m not sure “unfair” is the word. When I give people lead weight in order to scuba dive there are some ethnicities who require a lot more than others – even though similar body size & weight. Put simply some ethnicities have heavier bone mass and therefore “sink”, others have a lighter bone mass and “float” (requiring extra lead weight in order to go underwater and stay there). This directly links to certain ethnicities excelling at competitive swimming, and others hardly featuring at the highest level. The opposite being true of sprint events.

  2. Ross Eathorne Post

    In my experience its genetics that separate the positions on the Dias. And genetics that determine if you are going to be competitively successful (not good, not ability to enjoy) at a given sport.

  3. Serena Evans Post

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