Equality is often a difficult concept to define. Many people may believe that our society is far from reaching a state of equality (which there is definitely evidence to support), while others may claim that our society is generally as fair and just as it should be (which can be a valid argument). Much like the idea of disability, equality is dependent on the way in which it is defined by the individuals discussing it.
There are a number of different ways in which we may view the concept of genuine equality. Now, there is absolutely no doubt that equality is nonexistent in a society in which equal opportunity and treatment are not given to individuals based on truly trivial characteristics, like gender or race. However, if one defines “equality,” the ultimate, idealistic, utopian idea of it, as simply an equality of opportunity, then our society may be on the verge of achieving that; however, if true “equality” is defined as an equality of outcome, then we may be quite far from reaching that point. According to many statistics (compiled in Claire Cain Miller’s New York Times article: “Pay Gap is because of Gender, Not Jobs“), women in some fields may be paid as low as two-thirds the salary of their male counterparts. With no evidence that this disparity is due to anything but gender, it can be seen as very reasonable toargue that our country has a long way to go to achieve what many people would call genuine equality.
In the realm of athletics, equality is certainly not a new topic of conversation. Few would argue that system of professional baseball of the past was an equal and just system. Until the great Jackie Robinson came along in the late 1940’s, professional baseball was separated into an all-white major league, and the far less prestigious “Negro league baseball.” This idea, now something that seems preposterous, was considered the acceptable during that time period. This change in attitude can be accredited to both the extreme change in societal norms over the past six decades along with the redefinition of what equality is.
Today, almost all sports leagues are entirely accepting of different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds (though some leagues, professional and amateur, may wind up all-one-race due to socioeconomic settings), and race is not often a topic of discussion in regards to equality in sports. Nowadays, the discussion exists regarding different topics. An example of one-such topic is brought up in Ariel Levy’s article “Either/Or“: the story of Caster Semenya, a South African runner whose sex is frequently questioned. Though she identifies as female, certain physiological characteristics do give her a definite edge over her other female competitors. These advantages are, however, are not fabricated in any way; she did not take any form of performance-enhancing drug or take any steps to unfairly gain an edge over her fellow athletes. So the question arises: should further steps be made to ensure equality in athletic competition?
Many may argue that what makes athletic competition so great is that each competitor has to work with the talents and physical traits that they were dealt. These same people would make the argument that because Semenya was born the way she is, she deserves the advantage that her particular physiological traits give her. The thought of somehow altering athletes’ hormonal makeup to create a more level playing field makes the idea of competition seem a thing of the past. If all people were created equal, than, consequently, no one was created special. Whichever idea you side with, make sure you take one thing into consideration: what is true equality?