The difference is that in life, you only get one season. You pick up where your parents left off the season before and make do with what you have to. Sometimes a lot of players disappear - courtesy of the plagues, world wars, famines, comets - but the standings never fully reset. So really it's more like all of time is one big season and we each only take a few turns. You better not waste them, and you better hope whoever moved before you didn't ruin your opportunity to succeed.
It's true equality when we each get the same chance to do well in our lives. But unlike in sports, in life wellness is up for debate. And this causes a lot of pain for people who disagree with the majority, and a lot of those people take revenge by dealing this pain back to a minority of the majority, and all the while the standings never reset. Differences grow more pronounced, grudges run deeper. Everything is more tense like when two rival teams meet deep in the postseason. To our knowledge, we are not yet in the postseason, but the stakes seem extremely high anyway. Many people thus adopt a "now-or-never" outlook on social, political, environmental, &c. issues. This argument pushes the rest of the population to respond with a resounding "never." The teams at the top want to stay at the top, leaving the teams on the bottom to wallow in their desperate pleas for “just a few more wins because they're already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.”
But if there is no postseason, the teams are trapped in an endless search for more wins. They will have to find new ways to claim wins: agriculture, industry, technology, data - each revolution brings a few more champions, but leaves even more people looking forward to next year's draft. And if there is no next season, and if there's a limited number of wins, and winners keep winning and losers keep losing, eventually there will only be people with everything and people with nothing. It’s happened before and it always turns out badly for everyone, especially so for the people who thought they had everything.
When all the land is bought up, all the fuel is dug up, and all our personal data is snatched up, where else can we go? In sports, the teams pack up and move the franchise to a different market. Shall we sally forth to Mars? But in sports, teams move to BETTER markets, with more resources. They don't go to barren wastelands. The number of major league sports teams in Idaho is equal to the number of people on Mars and that's no coincidence.
So we're stuck here and we're running out of wins - running out of things to gain. In sports, the limited number of wins are divided amongst the teams each season, with the number of wins each team receives being based on their skill in competition. It's clean that way. In life, a person starts out with all the wins their parents and their parents' parents earned. Others start with their parents' losses. Some wins can be secured in financial packages with nonplussing names so that they can never be earned away by anyone else, while providing additional "passive" wins for their owner. It should be noted that there are very, VERY few passive wins in sports. But in life, there are probably people who get more “wins” passively every year than most of the individuals in the population earn actively in their lifetimes. And the standings never reset.
So when we hear that a particular group of people are stuck in oppression because of how they are portrayed in the media, in books, in movies, &c., that's really not it. Their portrayal is a factor and an issue, but it's one they should be able to put their minds to and overcome. A much bigger problem is that, on the spectrum of success, there's no where left to go. We're running out of wins left to earn and so the people at the bottom are finding the quagmire that envelopes them to be ever more expansive. Should we all retreat to virtual reality? No. If there's one thing history teaches us it's that we as humans are not in control. The moment our digital utopia is perfected, the Bonobos will have begun their insurrection and they'll pull the plug on us while we're all playing Ring-Around-the-Rosy in the Matrix. Should we have a revolution of our own?
Yes. But not a violent one like those oh-so romantic conflicts of the 19th Century. We shall have a revolution of real beauty. Its goal is a wholesale update to society's definition of success. Rather than asking on our deathbed, “am I the richest person in the world?” we will be asking, “have I truly enriched the world?” Obviously we will hope that the answer is a resounding “yes.” How will this enrichment take place? It’s simple: those who have enough, will not seek more for themselves, but will pursue the greater good, and we will all work to develop stronger bonds with the people around us. Private jets will yield to public works. Online chatrooms will yield to real people chatting in real rooms. Religious centers will be places of community-building, not sources of divisiveness. “Wait,” you say. “A lot of people already do this … none of this is really new.” Yes. You’re correct. None of it is new. We already know what we need to do. But for some reason, we don’t just do it.
NYC, 2754 AD - There’s a big statue of an apple above the headquarters of the Global Government. At the bass of the maintenance hatch, there’s a warning sign that says “DO NOT ENTER.” It doesn’t say what will happen if you do enter. But it seems like it would be pretty bad. There’s something inside you, though, that dares you to enter anyway. To stick it to the GG. You know the risks. But one day, you just do it. Maybe this time things will get better than they were before.
It’s in our nature to try to find out what’s on the other side. To double down, roll the dice, and see if we get something better. But “progress” is getting over our natural instincts and embracing our “humanity,” which philosopher’s, writers, poets, singers, painters, sculptors, composers, and liberal artists of all kinds have spent millennia meticulously carving a definition of from the growing mountain of human experience. They are the Player’s Union, working together to negotiate a good deal with the universe and helping explain the terms we should abide by. They are the coaches, who have watched hours and hours of film and figured out what we need to do to secure a real victory. We just need to really listen. And listening comes with trust.
And I think there’s the problem. There’s no more trust. We don’t trust our coaches to lead us in the right direction. We don’t trust the League to treat us fairly. We don’t trust our representatives to have our best interests in mind. We don’t trust that the universe is on its proper course, and some people don’t trust that anything, literally anything, is real. “I don’t trust this Lawson guy who is telling me to not hoard money - I’m gonna go ahead and hoard more just in case … I don’t trust my elementary school teacher telling me about this “golden rule” thing so I’m gonna go ahead and treat other people badly … I don’t trust Christians … I don’t trust black people … I don’t trust communists … I don’t trust liars … (well that last one is actually ok) … I don’t trust my teammate’s aim so I’m gonna take the shot myself in this 2-on-none breakaway called life.”
Of all the commodities we’ve run out of, the one we’ll miss the most is trust. In sports and in life, trust allows for teamwork, and teamwork gets the win. I’d give all my money, land, cows, hockey jerseys, shoes, whatever, in exchange for the mineral rights to a concealed vein of trust. Now if I could only figure out how to scale it, then I’ll really leave you suckers in the dust …
16 February 2020
Lower Greenville, Dallas