I've always been large, gawky, and completely inept at sports. But now I'm an athlete. And so are you. Talent used to be necessary, but the Supreme Court just ruled that if your physical condition makes it difficult for you to play the game, the rules have to be changed to accommodate you.
You probably know the details already. Casey Martin, a golfer with a bad leg, did quite well in tournaments that allowed players to get around the course in golf carts. But the PGA considers fatigue an important part of the game, and doesn't allow carts. All the players have to walk several miles during game.
Justice John Paul Stevens is sure he knows better than the PGA. He claims that shot making is the key to golf, and anyway, Martin gets tired too, so the PGA now has to make an exception for him.
You may have always wanted to play baseball in the major leagues, but never had the athletic skill or ability. But now, just pick a handicap, say, obesity, and the rules have to be changed to accommodate you. Can't hit? The pitcher should only be allowed to throw underhand, slowly. Is running a problem? Then you should be given extra time to get between the bases. Fielding a problem? You're entitled to assistance from a designated catcher and a designated thrower.
Basketball has cruelly and unfairly discriminated against shorter players. There is no justification, in our enlightened age, to keep someone from their hoop dreams just because they're five foot nothing. A simple mechanical solution would suffice. The hoop should rise and fall depending on who has possession of the ball at the moment. Every time a tall player blocks a shorter players shot, the officials will have to rule if the blocker used his height to gain an unfair advantage. Obviously, we’ll have to replace the referees with lawyers.
The possibilities are endless, unless you are a real athlete who wants to compete against other highly skilled athletes to settle the question of who really is the best. Such competition started shortly after we began to walk upright, when one cave man said "I can run faster than you" and the other one said "Prove it." It is time to put such barbaric thinking aside and embrace our brave new world, where no one has to suffer the embarrassment and shame of knowing someone else does something better then they do.
I've never been a huge baseball fan. With my size and girth the only position I'd be good at, even with all the help I'm now entitled to, is the Backstop. But I've always liked riding horses, and this new ruling will let me peruse my lifelong goal of becoming a jockey. It certainly isn't my fault that I'm 6' 4" and weigh in just shy of 300 pounds. I'll expect the racing commission to come up with a satisfactory solution to allow me to compete fairly. If they can't breed a stronger, faster horse just for me, they can weigh down the other jockeys to nullify their blatantly unfair advantage.
Kurt Vonnegut predicted all of this in his short story Harrison Bergeron, where everyone with any talent is given an artificial handicap to make them equal to everyone else. Kurt's only mistake was putting it too far in the future, the result of constitutional amendments eighty years from now. He never guessed that it would happen much sooner, without any of the effort required for an amendment. All it took were the whims of seven goofy judges, who have just opened the door to ruin every competitive sport ever played in the US.
In this 1998 article Walter Olson, (who runs one of my favorite web sites,) put it best: "Every Olympics a Special Olympics."
Another columnist's take on this case.
© 2001 Dave Hitt