Friday, February 28, 2014

Birthright isn't right

I just saw a pop-up ad for Target that showed video clips from a NASCAR racer's childhood, which of course he spent racing (and winning at racing). The Olympics had a bunch of montages and commercials as well showing home videos of the competitors doing their sport at a young age.

They're meant to be inspirational, I suppose, but in another respect they're depressing. 

Sports like those showcased in the Winter Olympics and auto racing (or sailing, polo, anything that involves expensive vehicles or animals) — as well as other pursuits such as acting and politics — are largely inaccessible to the general public. The people who do them have to start out as young as possible, and nearly all of them have the wealth, connections and/or stage parents to make it happen. Good for them, and the competitions are indeed interesting, but the tales aren't necessarily inspirational. I can't be moved to go back in time 30 years, relocate to Vail, have different financial fortunes and naturally excel at different things.

I'm just not a fan of predestiny in general. Give me a good rise-from-scratch story any day. Or, if I'm in a particularly morbid mood, show me someone driven by birthright who fell short. 

Even better, show me someone who took up their shining pursuit later in life. Plenty of people pack it in before 30 (never mind 40 or 50), so those who not only don't, but expand their horizons, are a genuine inspiration. While I begrudge no one's success, I'd also like to see more examples of people not born into it. We could really use that.

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