Cleek has moved to
Update your treasure maps accordingly.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A sport at which nobody, or everybody, can excel isn't much of a sport. A game where everyone stands an equal chance of winning is probably a game that depends entirely on random probabilities, coin flips, and isn't much fun. So, the rules of sports are constructed around normal human abilities with a small but important amount of random unpredictability tossed in so that players have to respond to things they can't exactly predict (ex. our inability to throw, roll, hit or kick a ball exactly where we want it to go keeps everybody guessing). When you get right down to it, most sports come down to getting enough control, though never perfect control, over the throwing or hitting so that you can put the ball pretty much where you want it to go, or betting that your opponent can't so you can take advantage of his innacuracy. And, even without spending years mastering that control, the basic skills are nearly always within the range of normal human performance so that most people can play any sport with a little memorization of rules and a little training to get used to the specific physical skills. Not everyone will be able to be a professional, of course; natural physiological variation separates the pros from the hackers. But at its core, a game has to be playable by the average person to be a good game.

If you buy that, you might agree that it's strange to think that some people are designed (as in "Intelligent Design") to be better at sports.

First of all, Intelligent Design, silly as it is, isn't about a Designer who crafts each individual one at a time with skills designed to fit the current culture: I.D. is about the ultimate origin of man as a species. An active super-natural entity that fiddles around with individuals at that level isn't called a "Designer" - that's just plain ol' "God".

Secondly, every sport is designed by humans, to be played by humans (possibly with other animals as game pieces), with full knowledge of human abilities; we don't make games that require super-natural intervention to be good at. Humans make games for humans.

And finally, of course some people are going to be better at doing some things. The idea that some people are better at things that nearly everybody can do to to one degree or another isn't a radical one - it's the basis of pretty much everything humans do.

So, I'm with Atrios, this Washington Post article may be the stupidest thing I've ever read.

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.