Thursday, June 17, 2010

Adult Swim: Protecting the Rights of the Privilged Minority?

I'm first base coach for the shorter of the short people's post-season All-star team, a position I enjoy greatly because the first base coach gets to chat with a lot of people throughout the game. At their first scrimage the other day, I was talking to Jamal, the first baseman for the other team. He was excited that it was a nice warm day because not only did he get to play baseball, but after the game he was going swimming.

We discussed the joys of playing in the pool when he launched into a diatribe against what he perceived to be one of the great injustices of the world -- adult swim. We have a scarce resource, pool time, he argued, which was sought after and utilized by the children in quantities as large as they possibly could consume. Yet every out of every thirty minutes, ten minutes were set aside where they were barred from this good so that non-existent adults could have sole possession of the pool. "There never are any adults who go in," he complained, "and it gets boring just sitting looking at the pool."

I understand that there are secondary, unintended consequences of adult swim. Getting the children out allows them to rehydrate and rest which no doubt leads to fewer safety-related incidents in the pool, but if we take adult swim on its face, is it fair? Adults cannot swim laps with children splashing around them. They surely deserve use of the pool as much as the younger set does. They don't get half the time, only a third. The children therefore have no room to complain since they get more than their fair share.

But, the children could counter, if we divide the time in terms of per capita users, we are the ones making more than 2/3 of the use and so should command more than 2/3 of the usable pool time. If there happened to be a large or even regular contingent of lap swimmers, then you might have a point, but there isn't. Do potential swimmers have the same rights of representation as actual swimmers? Surely not, the children would say.

But is this right? Should the adult lap swimmers have time set aside just in case they decide to show up? Is this fair to the children? Is it fair to the adults to eliminate it? Do you have to use a right to deserve it?