In Sports (and Life), Height Doesn't Matter (Unless You're Short)
I reflected on this in light of the constant debates over the physical abilities of various athletes. Being a former basketball player and a current fan, I am well aware of the premium placed on physical prowess. Every year in June, around NBA draft time, one hears experts droning on about the endless physical gifts of this player or that. The player is often drafted early, signs a massive contract, and everybody glows for a while. Then the season comes and the player stinks up the joint. He has "endless physical gifts," yes, but he lacks only one thing: skill. This process is repeated constantly not only in basketball but in all sports as people repeatedly make the error of thinking that size necessarily signals ability.
I'm a short guy, and I can say from prior experience that there is huge bias against short athletes. Yet returning once more to basketball, one wonders why this bias must be so strong. Look at just the last seven seasons of NBA basketball. A guy 6'2 or shorter has won the award three times--Allen Iverson in 2000-01, Steve Nash in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Both of these players are relatively short, perhaps even tiny, in the NBA. And yet both of them were the best player in the entire league in a given year. Perhaps it's time to reexamine our stereotypes about height, and automatically assume that the tallest player--or business executive, or friend, or pastor--is the most gifted. Perhaps we ought to reconsider how we think about height. Height and girth look impressive, but impressive looks aren't everything. Just ask the 76ers or the Phoenix Suns.