I picked up a new book today. One that I have had my eyes on for some time but not yet come around to reading. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.  An “Outlier”, according to Gladwell, is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. This can for example be people who perform tasks or roles that lie way outside what most of us can comprehend, such as a World Class athlete in a sport. In the first chapter Gladwell hits me with what I kind of already know, but never really would like to admit. He has looked into the background of the most successful players on high performing teams, in the league as well as nationally in a few different sports and a number of different countries. Without a shadow of a doubt he manages to show that what we believe is somebody that has made it to where he or she is thanks to talent, hard work and ambition is actually something completely different. Why would there otherwise be such a huge over representation of people born early in the year in these teams? Gladwell argues that in fact what we see is a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We pick athletes at an early age because they are better than their peers. More often than not though the reason to why they are better is simple that they are older (=born nearer the cut off date for the applicable age) and therefore more developed. Once these youngsters are picked they are given more opportunities, better coaching and more resources and guess what happens? They leave their peers behind and what we thought was going to be the case is now a reality.

That is some pretty serious stuff to chew. Facts are though that in most sports, as well as in education, we disqualify people because of the time of the year in which they are born. What a waste of talent that is!

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