Tag Archives: World Cup

How You Probably Discriminate and Don’t Even Know It

Are you a part of a group at work, school, or recreationally? Well, then you’ve probably discriminated without even knowing it. A recent theoretical review of the literature concluded “ingroup favouritism is more potent than outgroup hostility” when it comes to discrimination in the United States. Meaning, preferential treatment to the people that are on your team contributes to discrimination more than outward displays of hostility to people not part of your team.

I should say that this ingroup favouritism doesn’t simply apply to overt teams/groups. Consider your work relationships for a moment. Let’s say that your son or daughter gets along quite well with the son or daughter of one of your subordinates. This particular subordinate missed a bunch of days of work this year because they were taking care of their child who was sick. When it comes time for performance reviews and this particular subordinate’s performance falls between two possible ratings, you give the subordinate a higher rating. However, there is another subordinate, without a child who’s friends with your child. This subordinate has also missed some work this year, but instead of giving them the higher rating, you give them the lower (of the two) ratings. By giving a higher rating to the subordinate to whom there is a connection, you’d be exhibiting ingroup favouritism. You’re not openly discriminating against the other subordinate, but you are showing preferential treatment (even if it’s inadvertently!) to one subordinate over the other.

This particular bit of research seemed especially important given Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay in The Atlantic. As I grew up in a fairly multicultural environment, I like to think that I don’t let a person’s race or ethnicity factor into any decisions I make. However, I, as many others have learned from Harvard’s Project Implicit Test, the culture that I live in has had an important influence on me.


There are obvious streams for this kind of research, but I was thinking about it in a broader context. As it stands, there’s the idea of ingroup and outgroup. That is, “our people” are over here and I’m going to do everything I can for them, while you’re people are over there and I’m not going to necessarily do everything that I can to help them. What if there no longer was an ingroup and an outgroup? Or maybe more specifically, what if everyone was part of your ingroup?

Consider someone like the Dalai Lama. There’s the ‘obvious’ ingroups for the Dalai Lama (Tibet, Buddhism, etc.), but I’d bet that the Dalai Lama probably thinks of all humans as his ingroup. Of course, we can’t all be the Dalai Lama, but we certainly could strive for this.

Let’s simplify this example just a little bit. Americans — is an ingroup — when you put it in context of a global stage. Americans look at themselves as an ingroup when it comes to some sort of international competition. That is, at the upcoming World Cup in June, Americans will be an ingroup, especially when there are matches against other countries. What if, instead of Americans thinking of themselves as the ingroup, they, instead, thought of the ingroup as fans of soccer (or football, depending upon where you’re from — although most Americans probably say soccer). While this is still an ‘ingroup,’ it’s certainly a broader and bigger ingroup than simply American (fans of soccer).

While not perfect, this is also on the way to expanding the ingroup to all of humanity.

ResearchBlogging.orgGreenwald AG, & Pettigrew TF (2014). With Malice Toward None and Charity for Some: Ingroup Favoritism Enables Discrimination. The American psychologist PMID: 24661244

Mistakes are Always Forgivable, if One Has the Courage to Admit Them

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about the 2022 World Cup. Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in December of 2010 at a meeting in Zürich. Usually, facts like the time of year and the place a decision happened are inconsequential. However, from what we know about decision-making, it’s possible that these small factors may have contributed to a country in the Middle East being awarded an event that takes place in the summer.

A couple of days ago, the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, admitted that they ‘may [have] made a mistake at the time.’

While it would have been easier had FIFA not make this mistake 3 years ago, I’m glad that they’ve admitted to it now. It gives them lots of time to try to come to some agreement with some of the soccer leagues who aren’t receptive to the idea of interrupting their season. If you’re not familiar with soccer, the Premier League‘s season takes place in the winter months (the Northern hemisphere’s winter months, I should say). The World Cup usually takes place in the summer (again, Northern hemisphere’s summer months), so that the Premier League’s season can finish. As I discussed in my post in July, there are all sorts of contracts that the Premier League will probably be hard-pressed to try and break. Of course, with the force of FIFA behind it, one would assume that there could be some deal arranged to work this out.

The bit I want to highlight from this piece of news is that the leader (and the organization), didn’t remain steadfast in their wrongness. FIFA could have very well went on believing that playing soccer in 122° weather wouldn’t have that much of an effect on the quality of the competition. They could have continued to look for opinions/facts that confirmed their belief in their rightness.

Let this news be an example to you and your organization: mistakes can be forgivable, so long as you admit to them. If there’s no admission of error, then there’s little room or time for correcting.

Note: The title of this post is a quote from Bruce Lee.

Who Wants to Play Sports in 122° Weather, in the Middle East, in the Summer?

A couple of days ago, I saw a headline that the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, was going to ask the executive committee to consider moving the 2022 World Cup, set to be played in Qatar (a country that borders Saudi Arabia), to the Winter. It seems to me that this should have been considered when Qatar was chosen as the host back in December (is that ironic?) of 2010.

I did some checking and since there’s been a World Cup for soccer (or football, depending on your geographic orientation), the event has always taken place in the “summer.” Every World Cup happens in the month of June or July. A few times, it started in May, but it has always, at a minimum, gone into June. Some have taken place solely in July. None of the previous 19 World Cups (dating back to 1934) have taken place in any of the other months. So, it would seem, considering moving the 2022 World Cup to the Winter would be unprecedented.

Adding another layer to this debate is that the English Premier League (one of the best soccer/football leagues in the world), isn’t interested in having the World Cup move to the Winter as it will affect their schedule. Not only will it affect one year’s schedule, but it’s likely to affect two year’s schedules. And, it will have an affect on broadcasting contracts.

As I read more and more about this story, I’m still flabbergasted that something like this wasn’t considered. It seems that someone, somewhere along the line should have thought about playing sports in 122° weather, in the Middle East, in the Summer. Along those same lines of due diligence or “thinking ahead,” I remember reading something recently about concerns that it won’t be cold enough in 2014 for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Let’s hope that those concerns aren’t realized.