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View Diary: Morning Feature: What Are the Odds? (Meta-Monday) (105 comments)

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  •  Good morning all :) (12+ / 0-)

    I'm here, but kinda not, since I have daughter and her hubby visiting, and I still haven't found all the missing brain cells.  Maybe Sarah tried to borrow some of them.  If so, either she didn't succeed or my head is in far worse condition than I thought.

    Looking forward to this week's discussion.  No question but what privilege and luck play a role in our lives.  It'll be interesting to discuss how much of a role.

    Hugggs and good morning to all!

    "No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me, love rescue me." -- Love Rescue Me/U2

    by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 04:59:59 AM PDT

    •  A much bigger role than we realize. (14+ / 0-)

      As we'll explore, on the one hand it does make sense to focus our personal narratives on the areas of life we can control: continued learning, persistence, etc.  That's where we can seize best advantage of the opportunities we do encounter.

      On the other hand, from our political narratives must include the larger cultural factors that benefit some and not others, and whether and how we as a society try to make opportunity less capricious.  Sadly, too often our political narratives are merely personal narratives, focusing on individualism and treating the unequal distribution of opportunity as either: (a) unimportant; or, (b) reflecting inherent worth and/or divine blessing.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Growth Lines (10+ / 0-)

        One of the saddest days in my older son's life was the day a doctor told him his growth lines had all filled in or were closed which meant my sixteen year old football playing son would never fulfill his dream of play professional football.  At 5'11", he was all done growing.

        He related his sad story on his law school application and said, if he couldn't fulfill his ambition one way, he would transfer the ambition to something other than football.

        I thought that was very wise for someone so young, and I think we probably all know those who wallow over what could have been, if only...

        •  Athletic excellence is surprisingly capricious. (7+ / 0-)

          It's not simply the genetics of whether you'll grow to the appropriate size, have better-than-average coordination and distance vision, and other physical prerequisites for athletic excellence.  Far more than we recognize, it's a matter of when you were born.  Most youth sports programs use a process called streaming, where the "better" athletes in a given cohort are moved into 'elite' teams and then get better coaching, more practice and playing time, etc.

          But who are those "better" athletes?  Most of the time, they're the kids who were born just after the cut-off date and thus are 9-11 months older than the other kids.  If the cut-off date for youth hockey is January 1st, the "better" athletes will be kids born in January, February, or March.  For proof, look at the birthdates of professional hockey players ... a vastly disproportionate number of whom were born in January, February, or March.

          Add to that the need for parents with the time, interest, and resources to pay for club membership, developmental camps, etc., and the idea that sports is a field where individuals succeed based on their own hard work and dedication falls apart.  They do have to be dedicated and work hard, but all of that hard work and dedication only matters if the other factors put that sport within their "opportunity windows."

          •  This is not only going to "date" me (7+ / 0-)

            but "out" me as an Aries.  In thoroughbred racing January 1 is the arbitrary date set for any foal born in that year.  The closer to Jan. 1 the better the chances of the foal having a lucrative career on the race track.  The famous Secretariat, born March 30, 1970, defied those odds and became the horse who still holds the record time wise for the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes of the Triple Crown.
            Had he not have had stiff competition from a group of gifted horses during that year those records might not have been set.  The "opportunity window" for Secretariat was, in fact, the presence of the other gifted horses who happened to be born the same year, 1070.  

            •  What's around us matters ... a lot. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DBunn, winterbanyan, FarWestGirl

              I enjoy most team sports, because I've played most of them at some point in my life.  That's because I grew up in a small neighborhood.  In our sandlot games, no matter what the game being played, in order to have enough players for a game we needed anyone who wanted to play ... boys or girls, 6-year-olds or teenagers.  So if you wanted to play - whatever the sport - the other kids wanted you.

              That also changed how we played the games.  With so many younger kids, there was less focus on winning and a lot less body contact, even in games like touch football or hockey, because nobody wanted (or dared!) to hurt the younger kids.  And the younger kids got a lot of teaching and encouragement on how to skate, or throw a ball, or swing a bat, or whatever.  It wasn't always great coaching, but it was better than none at all.

          •  That first tag (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kj in missouri

            In the realm of athletics, the first tag that gets hung on you (meaning, the first evaluation of what kind of player you are) often tends to stick for a long time. It becomes the narrative frame within which all subsequent information-- your actual performance in the sport-- is interpreted. When Player X makes a great play, s/he's a bum who got lucky. When Player Y makes a crucial error, well, even the best players mess up sometimes.

            The book Moneyball was largely about this phenomenon, and the advantages that accrued to the Oakland A's because their GM, Billy Beane, was one of the first to discount the pet narratives of traditional scouts in favor of more objective, data-driven talent evaluation. His attitude was, "Don't tell me what a great looking prospect some kid is, tell me about his on-base percentage. Don't tell me he's got all the tools, tell me what happens when he's in the game."

            The gatekeepers can become quite invested in their own initial evaluations-- after all, that's supposedly the talent or skill that justifies their own position. The player who's there on a scholarship, or as a high draft pick, gets every chance to succeed. The walk-on or undrafted free agent barely gets a look, and if s/he does somehow get into a game and performs well, it's likely to be seen as a fluke.

            There's a feedback loop on actual performance, too. Much of sports, and life generally, depends on confidence. The kid who knows he'll be in the lineup every day can relax a bit, be patient, shrug off the occasional failure. The one who is almost never on the field when the game is on the line is likely to tighten up if he does somehow get in there, and to blow up or get down on himself if he doesn't convert his one chance.

            Of course, none of this is exclusive to sports. These are general social and psychological patterns. Conservatives seem to be especially weak at recognizing the way that "first tag" influences everthing that comes after. Or, to be more accurate, they don't see it when it works to their favor, but are exquisitely sensitive if it ever seems to work against them. Which, I suppose, is how they figured out what a huge disadvantage it is to be a white male in today's world :)

      •  Back in the olden days, (13+ / 0-)

        when not-yet-husband and I made a Great Escape to Wisconsin, we were doing great. He found a job there (after being laid off in NY) and I went for a postdoc. Well, things didn't work out so well on the job front for either of us. I had a bad first postdoc, and lost some confidence in myself. I looked around for another postdoc at UW and found a lab that wanted me, and I did fine until the money ran out. But I did my first re-training for a different field, and it went fine. Then the money ran out.

        Serendipity (I prefer that term to luck) raised its ugly head and pre-spouse was offered a job at the old firm in NY. Where we had lived, where we met. It took me less that a week to score yet another postdoc. That one did not go well, either. No blame, either side, but the money ran out again.

        Oh, the personal narrative goes on and on, but we both have been able in the past to hitch it up and get on, and I know there has been luck involved, but it could equally be called networking, desperation, many other nouns.

        I prefer serendipity.  

        Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

        by riverlover on Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 05:31:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Many Factors (10+ / 0-)

        I was born to an upper middle class ancestral line with at least a silver plated fork in my mouth. My dad had charm, connections, and luck, keeping a good job through the Depression in NYC, even having my sister in 1935.

        High IQ, didn't "realize my potential" k-12, it hurt being told that.

        Many golden opportunities, most didn't pan out. Two mentors saved my life, but I stalled emotionally and professionally. Enter third mentor. Success for ten years.

        The engine stall wasn't a character flaw, it was brain-weirdness. Who knew about adult ADD and addled brain chemistry in 1962, or even 1989?

        ADD diagnosis in 2003 plus learning about brain chemistry ended my guilt over graduating bottom third of class in 1967, and other bad life experiences.

        Success has far more factors than we know.

        We are all Jose Padilla.

        by JG in MD on Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 05:57:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  good morning winter (6+ / 0-)

      I've been thinking of you and hope you are in great spirits today. I've been working on a photobook for a gift to my daughter's favorite teacher and I find myself returning again and again to my favorite photos just because they relax me. It's not as nice as being there, of course...  

      Anyway, I've been trying to learn how to embed photos so that I can share them with you -- and maybe they'll brighten your day just a teeny bit...


      "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank

      by theKgirls on Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 05:35:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  'Morning, Winter! Enjoy the visit. Huuugggss! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winterbanyan, miss SPED

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 07:46:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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