Putting together a championship team requires an incredibly subtle and intangible series of ingredients: you need the right mix of talent, determination, training, confidence, and babies who are alive long enough to grow up and become athletes.
I’ve been a fan of sports for my entire life, and honestly, I can’t really recall anyone ever mentioning that last one to me.
Sure, broadcasters will talk at length — deservedly so — about the grit and the persistence and the spectacular ability demonstrated by the peerless team of Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, Simone Biles, and Gabby Douglas. However, they never really take the time to acknowledge how the United States government did an underratedly great job of never creating a systematic series of incentives that would lead millions of parents to abort or abandon their female offspring. Great job, USA! Really great.
When I was five, I told my parents I wanted to go to the Olympics. They told me I had a “one in a million chance.” (Once again, I was five. That was a little harsh, in retrospect.) But some researchers estimate as many 200 million girls did not live long enough to become Olympic champions, directly due to China’s one-child policy. That’s 200 potential gold medalists who did not compete this week.
Basic human rights are one thing, but winning gold medals for your country is legitimately important, you guys. The lesson, as always: governments should really think about sports more when setting policy.