Monday, January 5, 2009

On Equality and the NBA

When talking with a friend and fellow basketball fan last week, I made the observation that despite my Rockets having a so-so season so far, I haven't had as much fun watching basketball in over a decade. The Lakers, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Cavaliers are all really good, several other teams (my Rockets, and especially the Hornets included) are pretty good, and there is a great game on almost every day. My friend disagreed, saying that with more concentration of talent on a few good teams, that equality is suffering. After much thought, I decided that I didn't care much at all about equality. I care about equal opportunity. If I were a fan of a miserably bad team like New York or Washington, I would be hopeful as long as my team had the same chance to improve as any other. But equality doesn't make basketball a more enjoyable spectator sport. Exceptionalism makes basketball a more enjoyable spectator sport. LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Chris Paul make basketball more enjoyable. Some of the world's greatest athletes performing at an elite level in the world's most beautiful game make basketball more enjoyable.

The same thing can be said about societies. No society progresses because it becomes more equal. Societies should have equal rights because it is: (a) the morally correct thing, and (b) the way to ultimate progress so long as opportunities are available for the exceptional. Progressivism has always been less concerned with Progress as equality. And even so, it never realizes equality. It makes those below the favored class more equal, but the gap between the favored class and the rest of the society grows.

In The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater makes the assertion that individualism is sacred, and that "the conscience of a Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being". In basketball, as in society, exceptionalism, which can only be found by individuality does much more good for society than equality ever could.

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