Youth Baseball: Affirmative Action Metaphor?

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In this week's The New York Times Magazine, "The Ethicist" tackles youth baseball. Specifically, he counsels a reader on the controversial drafting of a hometown All-Star team. Nineteen boys tried out for the select squad; 13 will be chosen. The worst player at the try-out recently lost his father to cancer. The town is pressuring the coach to select the boy for the team anyway, which, though a nice showing of support for the grieving boy, would be wholly unfair. The Ethicist thinks the pity spot on the roster would do more harm than good:

Assuming this boy isn't stuck on the end of the bench and actually gets into a game, it will take him about three pitches to realize he's not good enough to hold his own among the all-stars. It will not be a pleasant moment. His well-wishers may be setting him up for failure, accompanied by the queasy sensation of his not deserving to be there, along with the resentment of teammates who genuinely earned their place on the squad.

However, one commenter has a different, passionate view on the matter:


I never thought I'd read an argument against affirmative action in this paper. I'm disgusted by the ethicist. Isn't it obvious that the young player only needed a chance? The kids who made the team without the community intervention had an unfair advantage since their fathers probably helped them practice.

Who's in the right?

Read the full story at The Ethicist.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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