Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 :::

This is kind of about football, but not really.

Saturday morning, while I happened to be in a diner watching it on closed captioning, an ESPN analyst suggested that the committee to select the four teams to play for college football's top championship should only include people who once played college football.  One of his colleagues noted that that would exclude women, a point that he obliquely conceded.  (This was in the context of the news that Condoleeza Rice will apparently be on the committee, and it would not be paranoid to suggest that excluding women in particular was his intent, even if he didn't actually say it.  Incidentally, a number of other names have also come out, and I'm not quite clear whether these are carved in stone or whether these are people under serious consideration being leaked by insiders, but I'm pretty sure it's far more likely than "educated guess" that she will actually be on the committee.)

A New England sports news reporter, in response, tweeted
My question to Pollack: What would you say to the man who denies your daughter/sister/wife/GF/niece an opportunity because of her gender?
I'm here to say that that's even more asinine than what the first guy said.

First, a response to the suggestion that only former players be on the committee: It's a committee.  When discussing the composition of any committee, I'm much more favorably disposed toward statements of the form "There should be at least 1/2/[a quarter of the committee] members with [certain kind of experience/expertise]" than to "Nobody should be on the committee if they don't have [certain kind of experience/expertise]".  Make sure relevant perspectives are at least heard and considered.  While most college football coaches played some college football, the best coaches are not typically the best players, which in and of itself suggests that the top players in particular don't have a monopoly on insight into what makes a good team; in fact, I think it would be a bigger problem if the committee didn't have enough former coaches than if it didn't have enough former players.

What irks me about this particular response, though, is not just how badly it misses the point, but the implication that the problem with leaving Rice off of the committee is that it would "deny her an opportunity".  Condoleezza Rice should be on this committee solely because the committee would benefit from her being there.  This isn't some prize; if you want some sort of NCAA homecoming court, by all means talk about giving people a "fair shot" in spite of whatever experiences they do or don't have.  She's not there for decoration, or to inspire people who weigh under — you're not supposed to guess a woman's weight, really, but she sure looks slender; let's go somewhat conservatively with — 130 pounds, a class of people who won't generally have experience playing football, that they, too, can get handed positions they don't deserve; she's there to make a decision on which she happens to be quite knowledgable, and in an institutional structure in which she would be quite good at making use of that knowledge in helping a group make a decision.

(Incidentally, I've been thinking about how the committee should work, though I don't promise that link will be live for more than the next week or two.)

::: posted by dWj at 12:12 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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