Level the playing field ?

  1. "level the playing field"?

    Will somebody please give a detailed answer of what you want when you ask for this ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dembadon

    Dembadon 666
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    I want you to think that I'm somehow in an unfair position, usually politically. I also realize that this statement is ambiguous, and that is precisely the reason I use it. Sorry, but a detailed explanation of what I want when I use this phrase would require me to list every instance in which I believe my opponent has an unfair advantage. That would take much too long, and I don't think it would help you.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  4. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    It usually means that one group has an unfair advantage over others that needs to be addressed, for example; richer students being accepted at prominent universities over poorer students even though the former have worse grades than the latter.
  5. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,244
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    Usually, it means the people who are asking want to change the "rules" so they are unfair to everybody else except them.
  6. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    The prominent Universities are mostly private (here in the US). There are very good public colleges that people can try for.
  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: "level the playing field"?

  8. Re: "level the playing field"?

    I usually ask it during the fifth inning by which time I've had a few beers.
  9. lisab

    lisab 3,188
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    By the seventh inning stretch I ask for it to stop spinning.
  10. Re: "level the playing field"?

    Ah. :tongue: so they want to move the goal posts too in the playing field.
  11. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    It is still a problem here in the UK, places like Oxford and Cambridge will still be over represented by those of an upper class background. Another example is that earlier on in the year the government tried to bring in a money making scheme by changing the rules so that universities were allowed to let rich students buy a space on a course once all of the spaces were filled up*. It's much better than it used to be though when universities were purely the domain of the upper class and no one else, no matter how intelligent or capable you were, would be allowed.

    *Essentially this would mean that if a university offered 20 places it would fill those in normally and then afterwards offer X more places to those who could afford it. Understandably the public outcry of this was enormous and the proposal was scrapped.
  12. Pengwuino

    Pengwuino 6,942
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    When the deviation from a euclidean flat space is minimal.
  13. apeiron

    apeiron 2,366
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    I think there are three key things to say:

    1) The playing field was in fact radically levelled post-WW11 in Western nations as the result of civil rights movements and serious social change. Women and minorities saw a real and lasting opening up of opportunity.

    2) Since then, some new inequalities of opportunity have been locked in with the emergence of an underclass (multigenerational welfare coupled to breakdown of community in neoliberal consumer economic model). And also the development of an elite or "overclass".

    Social mobility stats in US, UK, etc support that there is less movement. One of the things people can buy is a more certain future for their kids. There are network effects that limit opportunities for "outsiders".

    But is this a big or small problem as yet? Arguably, the social change to level the playing field still far outstrips the unlevelling due to the institutionalisation of both fecklessness and privilege. :smile: And certainly, there is a freer flow of the technocrat class internationally. Less migration internally is compensated for by a lowering of barriers to actual outsiders. So the actual problem comes back to what to do with the underclass - given the extent that it is seen as a drag on national performance.

    3) Then the bigger question. If the playing field is relatively level, do we still want to play the same game? If it was levelled to create equal access of opportunity for "wealth and consumption", then that is one choice. But societies can make other choices.

    Bhutan, for example, is framing its national goal in terms of a "gross national happiness" index.

    So "level playing fields" has a double implication I believe. It says everyone should be actively in the game (playing a part to the best of their energies and capabilities). But also that everyone should be playing the same game (as the game determines the nature of the playing field to be levelled).

    You can appreciate this fact from the recent history of neoliberal consumerism - riding the curve of fossil fuel burning and natural resource consumption. If that is the chosen game, then the "levelling" process quite naturally includes stripping away every kind of structural impediment to the free playing of that game.
  14. Re: "level the playing field"?

    It's about not letting people to
    - cheat or bribe
    - gain positions based on their ethnicity or gender

    but I certainly don't think it's about
    - making positions exclusive to minority/aboriginals
    - giving out scholarships to minority/aboriginals/women


    Sometimes some positions are offered only to certain group of people and I think debunking or favoring these actions need some legitimate research (1) not personal opinions.

    (1) e.g. on how giving a job to a poor will lead to a catalyst effect resulting in changes to the lives of far more people than giving a job to a rich person.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  15. Re: "level the playing field"?

    If I had an opponent with a list of unfair advantages so long they couldn't be listed - I might find another event in which to compete.
  16. Re: "level the playing field"?


    [qupte]2) Since then, some new inequalities of opportunity have been locked in with the emergence of an underclass (multigenerational welfare coupled to breakdown of community in neoliberal consumer economic model). And also the development of an elite or "overclass". [/quote]

    I find these assertions somewhat ridiculous, as a third of the folks in my masters classes have been from such "multigenerational welfare" groups. They're among the better students, too, as they know what it took for them to get there.

    Is it more difficult? Yep. Is it impossible? Nope.

    I'm one of those who made it. I also saw a lot of folks from high school whom I left in my wake who're among those most vociferous about "leveling the playing field." Whenever I run into them, I don't tell them what I did or whether I'm retired, for fear of them putting me in their "1% bad-hats" bucket, even though I'm nowhere near the top 10% category, wealth-wise.

    I think network effects make things more difficult. They do not block movement, and like all hurdles, they become the scapegoats to the real problem of entitlement mentality where people are more willing to work towards entitlements (OWS) than they are willing to work for pay. No job is beneath one's dignity when it means putting food on the table.

    I think you've mis-ID'd the problem.

    I don't. Didn't want to play that game when I first heard of it back in the 60s. Certainly don't want to play it now.

    It is level, opportunity-wise. What will never be level is the fact that just as some folks are smarter than others, and so find most things easier (making grades), other folks have the benefit of parents who earn more, so than can more easily afford school. Again, I had neither of these advantages. Just a guy who was sick and tired of working landscaping, mowing lawns, and painting houses.
  17. Dembadon

    Dembadon 666
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    Indeed. The definition is actually quite simple, as others have succinctly demonstrated, but I had fun trying to avoid answering the question directly. :devil:
  18. apeiron

    apeiron 2,366
    Gold Member

    Re: "level the playing field"?

    That is great news then and shows welfare support must work! :smile:

    On the other hand, there is plenty of research on the issue of the underclass that may trump your annecdotal claims here.

    Yes, escaping poverty/disadvantage can be a strong spur in life. Just as being born to privilege can be demotivating too.

    But peer-reviewed research rather than annecdote may be necessary to tell us which is actually the exception, and which the rule.

    Again, I agree that the opportunities are remarkably level in broad historic terms. But what I think OWS represents is people daring to question whether we are all playing the right game.

    "Work hard, get rewarded" may be the just the mantra of a particular society at a particular moment in history. The future mantra might be work smart, or work co-operatively. The rewards might be having a sustainable future rather than an uncertain one, living in society less divided into winners and losers, etc.
  19. Re: "level the playing field"?

    Ah, I was itching to say this but I knew I'd just launch into another rambling, incoherent rant so thank you for expressing it so concisely.
  20. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

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