Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Fattest Athlete in the Room

Why do so many people criticize golfers, certain baseball players, and so on, for not being “real athletes” when it is these athletes who have achieved what they have through hard work and dedication as opposed to purely natural gifts, which come into play to a far greater degree in more “respected” sports like football, basketball, or hockey?. Most people could, given enough practice, become relatively good golfers (or so I believe). But there is simply nothing that is going to make anyone except a very elite few able to run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. If you’re not born with the physical capabilities to do that, all the training in the world won’t make you that fast. But many people (and funnily enough, it seems to especially come from people who don’t do these “non-sports” like golf, curling, etc.) heap far more praise on these athletes who’s success has been more the result of genetics than hard work. To clarify, I’m not trying to say that people who are amazing quarterbacks and point guards shouldn’t be praised for their accomplishments, because they have worked hard to reach the top of their sport – but perhaps we need not be so quick to make jokes about athletes from sports that are less dependent on unique and rare physical attributes.

From an evolutionary psych perspective, perhaps our admiration of elite athletes is just left over from when innate physical gifts were more for survival than they are today. And no matter what, it's still pretty amazing and beautiful to see someone with incredible natural talent as well as practiced skills do something that no other human being on Earth is capable of doing.


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