Saturday, April 22, 2017

The fable of our time

Is the emperor's new clothes. It can be applied again and again and again.

All over our culture today, we see ideological constructs that are clearly illusory (the emperor is actually naked), but for which the illusion is sustained by the threat of reputational destruction for anyone who states the obvious.

I will give you one example of what I mean, and you can generate many more yourself. Consider the barrage of ads that have been showing this winter and spring, claiming things like "sports knows no gender."

Applying this principle, the US women's soccer team talked about going on strike, because although they were doing "equal work" to the men, they were getting paid less.

Well, that same women's team just lost to a JV high school boys team by a score of 5-2. So the very best women's team in the world just lost to a group of 14-year-old boys from a single high school!

Clearly, far from being equal to the best male players in the world, the very best female players in the world would have great difficulty in making a top-notch boys high school team. I would guess that not a single one of them could make a decent Division One men's university team.

So how could anyone possibly believe all these advertisements? It is like advertisements were claiming that the average American is 20 feet tall, or were selling you dirt, telling you it is a tasty and nutritious food.

Well, they work, because to question the illusion at all is to invite utter social condemnation. Just the way the illusion that the emperor had a grand new suit of clothes on was maintained.

17 comments:

  1. In the interests of accuracy: It was the U-15 academy squad for MLS club FC Dallas, not a JV team from a single high school. It was just an informal scrimmage by all accounts not a competitive game.

    I strongly suspect that an average professional men's soccer team could beat the USWNT, but doubt (based on my JV-level coaching experience) that even the best male U15 team in the country could beat them routinely in competitive matches.

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    1. Routinely? No, you're right. But the fact they did it once tells the story.

      "I strongly suspect that an average professional men's soccer team could beat the USWNT"

      The *very worst* men's professional team would *crush* them: the men will be 40-50 lbs. heavier, 5" taller, significantly faster and stronger, their kicks will be much harder, etc. etc.

      In basketball, even most pro women 6'5" or 6'6" can't dunk. Only a handful of women have dunked in all of basketball history. Meanwhile, NBA players as short as 5'3" can dunk.

      The top WNBA team could not beat the top HS boys team.

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    2. 'The *very worst* men's professional team would *crush* them: the men will be 40-50 lbs. heavier, 5" taller, significantly faster and stronger, their kicks will be much harder, etc. etc.'

      I very much doubt this is true for soccer (have you seen Messi play?) , but I'm not sure there is much empirical evidence one way or the other.

      Doesn't it worry you at least a little bit that your post was factual inaccurate ? Your post and your response to my comment give the impression the you already "know" the answers , and the facts are a bit of a side issue.

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    3. http://healthyceleb.com/lionel-messi-height-weight-body-statistics/5881

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    4. "Doesn't it worry you at least a little bit that your post was factual inaccurate ?"

      What? That I thought "the Dallas Academy" was a school, when in fact it is a club team? That changes things how? A bunch of 14-year-old boys beat the best women's team in the world!

      You are offering us *great* examples of the "Emperor's New Clothes" effect, so thanks!

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    5. So some particular good men's soccer player is not so big? Wow, what a shock! Mugsy Bogues was not very big either.. but he could dunk. Something almost every WNBA player a foot taller than him cannot do!

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    6. "the facts are a bit of a side issue"

      The fact is, if women could really compete equally in sports... there would be no need for women's teams! rob, if you want *facts* just go look at women's versus men's records in track-and-field or swimming. The very top women in swimming would be completely uncompetitive in Div I NCAA swimming meets. In these events we have *times* and this is obviously true.

      But, you know... that's a beautiful suit of clothes the emperor has on, right rob?

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    7. "Div I NCAA swimming meets"

      Among top schools.

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    8. The 24th-place men's team in this year's NCAA championship in the 800 free relay swam it in 6:29. The *winner* of the women's championship swam it in 6:49: they would have been a *lap-and-a-half* behind the 24th place men's team. They would not have even qualified for the men's event.

      THAT'S facts, rob.

      But the emperor's clothes are pretty nice, aren't they?

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    9. In clean-and-jerk, the Olympic women's record is 187kg. The men's is 263kg. The top woman ever can only lift about 70% of the top man.

      And note: her lift is *very* impressive. A lot more than what I could lift! But she would only be a decent level local competition weight lifter!

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    10. I swam for a pretty mediocre men's Div I team: UConn. The school record for the 800-yard-free relay there is 6:33. That still finishes a *full lap* ahead of the women's Div I winner last year. *Facts*, rob, *facts*.

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    11. Ok, well now you are presenting real facts about sports other than soccer and I'm not denying that male athletes out perform female athletes in most sports (including soccer!).

      But your post drew the conclusion "clearly, far from being equal to the best male players in the world, the very best female players in the world would have great difficulty in making a top-notch boys high school team" from a mis-statement of the facts. And in the specific sport of soccer it is my gut feel that this conclusion is wrong - so the mis-statement of the limited evidence we have is not insignificant to the matter.

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    12. BTW: FC Dallas are one of the top professional teams in the USA and their "academy squad" is probably drawn from the top <0.1% of players in the country, so to compare them to a HS team is actually quite a big error.

      But I think you have demonstrated your interest in facts is limited to ones that suit your case - so we can end this here.

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    13. So just out of curiosity I wondered how the top female athletes would do if competing against boys at my local high school (which I think is considered top-notch at least in the local region)

      Arcadia HS: http://mr-schultzs-class.ahs.ausd.net/modules/locker/files/get_group_file.phtml?gid=1552913&fid=29341345&sessionid=a4a191abc4491b14132e8ef9d43d5b28


      Best Women : https://www.trackandfieldnews.com/index.php/records/30-records/278-womens-outdoor-world-records

      The best women in the world would win most of the boys events based on this data.

      Admittedly this changes when you look at state records: http://www.espn.com/high-school/track-and-xc/california/story/_/id/7810657/all-time-california-track-field-records

      But (assuming soccer performance is correlated with other more measurable sports) I think this data is consistent with my gut feel that your 'Clearly, far from being equal to the best male players in the world, the very best female players in the world would have great difficulty in making a top-notch boys high school team.' is an exaggeration. And as this exaggeration appears based on your mis-representation of the JV scrimmage story, I think the main point of my comments is valid.

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    14. Looking at women's swimming records versus versus California state boys qualifying times, the top women swimmers ever mostly would have just barely qualified for the state championship this year. So I guess they would make the team, but none of them are close to winning a HS state championship on the boys side.

      So how about the women's national team soccer players would probably make a top-notch HS team, but would be merely role players?

      Clearly they could not make a top Div I men's soccer team.

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    15. 'So how about the women's national team soccer players would probably make a top-notch HS team, but would be merely role players?

      Clearly they could not make a top Div I men's soccer team.'

      My view is that the best women in the would likely be key players even at top HS level - but I would not have disputed your post if the above is what you had claimed. I agree about top Div I men's soccer team.

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  2. For the past 12 years I have I coached Girls XC at the local high school. I have just recently resigned . My son ran for the Boys team and they are extremely competitive.

    My take away. Boys are faster than girls and will be forever and always. Not a scientific study but true.
    The only thing that might influence this is the use of performing enhancing drugs but not without deleterious effect, and then probably not enough to make them "equal".

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