Who saw that game last weekend?! Wait, no. Let me say it this way. Who didn’t see that game last weekend?! I rushed that field, you are darn right I rushed that field! After seven long years, the Michigan Wolverines defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in The Game! Now let me ask you this. How were your seats? Could you see? Did you see every play? Or were you forced to stare up at those beautiful brand spankin’ new screens? I actually had pretty good seats, Sec. 29 Row 33 Seat 51. But, the problem was, I think about five other people had that same seat, Sec. 29 Row 33 Seat 51. At least it felt that way. The Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry is arguably the biggest rivalry in college sports and it was safe to assume that even a stadium as big as the Big House was going to be packed.
I think watching a highly anticipated football game on crowded stadium bleachers is one of the few times in life a guy can have his junk shoved up against another dude without his sexual orientation being brought into question. I would postulate that this is due to the social understanding that there is a severe lack of autonomy when sitting in the student section. If given the choice of watching a football game crammed like a sardine between two larger, much sweatier men, or watching the game a comfortable distance from those seated around you, a large majority of the student population would choose the latter. But nonetheless, Michigan is a community and together we support our team, braving whatever conditions we must to arrive and cheer on our team, even if our seats are less than desirable.
So when I arrived at the stadium, pushed and shoved my way down to row 33, shimmied my way into seat 51, bamboozled between my peers, and clambered up onto the bleachers, I couldn’t help but notice when I saw a girl standing wide stance across two seats (easily space enough for three or four people!). My friends and I kindly asked this girl to “scooch” down a little and make room so we could all sit together, but found her unwilling. This girl was attempting to “save seats” for her friends who had yet to arrive at the stadium. Im not sure what baffled me more, her arrogance in presuming she could pull such shenanigans, or her obvious success! As much as I and everyone else around me wished she would stand like a normal person and share the space with those around her, she did not budge, and she was successfully holding her ground.
If the amount of space each spectator occupied is seen as resources or wealth, this girl was considered very wealthy. I now justify my strong dislike for this girl’s actions by adopting the perspective of Rawls. Based off the interpretation of Rawlsian theory through Thomas Nagel’s, Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue, it can be concluded that Rawls would frown upon this girl’s actions as well. Rawls believed not in equality, but rather in an effort to assist the less fortunate. In other words, Rawls was happy if the least fortunate were at least doing the best they could, even if this wasn’t equal to the status of the more fortunate. Rawls then believed that it was partially the responsibility of the fortunate, and the wealthy, to do what they could to assist the least fortunate. The Bleacher Girl, illustrated above, was perceived as very wealthy but refused to assist the least fortunate. Everyone around her was suffering from lack of space and was forced to cram into none existent spaces in order to get a seat to watch the game, while she monopolized an area of space in high demand. Rawls would argue that it was this girl’s responsibility, as well as the responsibility of other spectators with extra space, to make an effort to accommodate their crowded classmates. In fact, Rawls would argue that Bleacher Girl was responsible up until the point where the spectator with the least amount of room (the least fortunate) could not gain more space without causing another spectator to be worse off than he or she.
So next time we all march down to the Big House for a big game and find the stadium absolutely packed, take a moment, and adopt the Rawlsian perspective and try to help out your fellow least fortunate classmates. Who knows, it could be you one day…
Below is a Rawlsian distribution. Everyone has equal room to jump.
P.S. I don’t know about you, but I was really pulling of “M” to win that race. Stupid “K”.
Below is a non-Rawlsian distribution. Some spectators wallow in their losing misery with much more space around them than others.