25 September 2010

Taking 'fairness' to a new level

I found this rather bizarre entry in the BBC's Magazine (which let's face it, is usually bizarre)

Can men and women ever compete fairly in a sport like running?

Well, um no is the answer

In short, Lucy Proctor has used statistics to work out when men and women can, on average best performances, perform equally well - in a nutshell, men in their early fifties are equal to peak performance women. Now, while I am rather fond of daft academic studies that seek to work out these things for the hell of it (she is clearly not being serious or promoting a Harperson-esque agenda), the fact is 'fairness' means all things to all men

I don't actually consider it fair to test a much older male against a younger female just so that they are on a supposedly level-playing field, in the same way it's not fair to work out the best time a lardarse can do and weight a lithe runner against him, that's equalising, not fairness

It's just statistics - fairness is in the eye of the beholder - to me, that means shoving everyone onto a start line and saying 'go' - that's a fair fight between all

Yes you can adjust the results for age, a seventy year old is hardly likely to match Paula Radcliffe, and it's a different expectation of achievement, but they are never going to be fairly competing - for a start the statistics are far too malleable and only relate to the very best athletes, not your common runner who will have a host of other advantages or disadvantages besides sex

I would like to see a team sport equalised in such a way - how do you make women's football as fast and powerful?

Answer: you don't

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