Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
Sports rules and laws
There’s something arguably wrong with every sport; how could it not be so? Soccer doesn’t have enough scoring for game scores to be a good indicator of relative performance, football and flat racing hurt their players, NASCAR is climate-hostile, and on and on.Â The rules of lifeÂ – laws – are perpetually flawed too, but we constantly try to fix them.Â Â I think sport authorities should be more willing than they are to fix the games from time to time, recognizing that some fixes will be mistakes (the DH in baseball was silly and remains so).Â Taller and better players have reduced basketball to “the teams run down the court and somebody puts the ball through the net.Â Then they run back and someone puts the ball in the other net.Â Occasionally the ball doesn’t go in the net: the team that has fewest of these mistakes wins.”Â The idea is on the table to raise the net, analogous to the idea (not on the table, though I wish it were) to enlarge the soccer goal by a foot or two each way, and toÂ banning anchored putting in golf.
The last of these is scheduled not to happen until 2016; easing transitions is often a good idea, but does it take three years for golfers to put their long putter in the attic and buy another?Â The basketball idea, which makes sense, raises the interesting question, should we pick a number, say one foot, and raise all the hoops that much at once, or raise them an inch every season until we’re happy with the result?Â Sometimes we change laws a lot all at once, like allowing same-sex marriage; sometimes we make small adjustments, like the inflation adjustment in Social Security payments.
Some things have to be highly quantized: for the Brits to convert to right-side driving in stages, as the joke goes (“for the first week, the new rules will only apply to buses and trucks”) would be a bad idea.Â But others allow for gradual change.Â A one-foot change all at once would greatly devalue the muscle memory of all players, but gradual change would keep those skills mostly in service as the transition occurred.Â I don’t think the mechanical costs of converting goals to be adjustable in this way are as daunting as, say, making soccer goals adjustable.
Author: Michael O'Hare
Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training.
He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at UniversitÃ Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs.
At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4Ã—5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.
View all posts by Michael O'Hare
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