When you’re young and naive, you tend to want to do things the right way. Adults have taught you that cheating and lying are wrong. As you get older and wiser, you begin to become aware of people using the system to get ahead.
What you also realize is that those who play the system end up leading the way! Let me share some examples as well as an innocent example about myself.
Gaming The system in sports
Ex-Major League Baseball player Alex Rodriguez made $441.3 million over a twenty-two-year career. That’s serious FU money!
In a 2007 TV interview with Katie Couric, he denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs. Two years later, in 2009, Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids during his baseball career.
But did A-Rod have to return any of the money? New.
Instead, after retiring as a player, Rodriguez became a media personality, serving as an announcer for Fox Sports 1, a Shark Tank cast member and a color commentator for ABC News, ESPN, and CNBC.
He was welcomed with open arms.
Nobody seems to care that A-Rod has been taking steroids. He is a hero to Yankees fans everywhere for helping them win the 2009 World Series. As a result, his actions have encouraged some athletes to play the system and also take performance-enhancing drugs.
Don’t ask A-Rod’s competitors what they think of him. Also, don’t ask Dodger fans about the 2017 Astros. Though the Astros later admitted to illegally stealing plates, they were still supposed to be the 2017 World Series Champs.
Gaming The system is commonplace
Gaming with the system in sports is one way to get ahead. However, there are many examples of people playing the system in almost everything.
Claim you are an underrepresented minority to attend a school or win a political election if you are not. Even after these people are discovered, they are allowed to keep their degrees and positions. Sweetheart, get government contracts because you’re buddies with the politicians in charge. Government corruption is ubiquitous. But if you have the money, some art dealers and luxury real estate agents will still sell to oligarchs. Insider Trading by Congressmen. Despite making millions of dollars from insider investments that the public cannot trade, these people still get reelected. Legally buy your kids’ way to elite private universities by donating over $10 million to a school fundraiser. Just don’t bribe school officials with less than $1 million. Otherwise you could be thrown in jail. Join an awards panel so you can vote for yourself and your friends. You would think that this would of course be unfair. However, the practice continues because no one cares. Hire your kids for leadership positions at a publicly traded company, even if they don’t have the relevant experience or skills. Nepotism is still very common, as rich parents trade favors. Manipulate the search engine’s algorithms so that you rank better than experienced authors who have the expertise and authority. This is a fascinating topic that I could write a whole post about after being online since 2009.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the system has been manipulated. If you follow the rules completely, you will have to climb a much tougher mountain. However, if you stand all the way above the board and make it, you will feel immense pride.
Try the above board route and then reconsider
In 2015, I got a tennis score of USTA 5.0 level. Initially I was proud because less than 1% of USTA league tennis players have received a 5.0. Suddenly I was playing against ex-Division I college players.
The first year was fine as I went 3-3. But the second year I went 1-9. That wasn’t fun, but at least I kept trying.
As a 40 year old in 2017 I asked for my rating to be reduced to 4.5. I was refused. So I took a year off because my son was born. In 2018 I decided to appeal again. Rejected again. I ended up going 4-12.
I appealed again in 2019 and 2020. Denied denied. As a result, I couldn’t find a 5.0 team to play in, so I played 9.5 combo.
USTA classification distribution. 1% has a rating of 5.0
Win the national title
Finally, in 2022, the USTA committee finally granted my appeal, allowing me to play in a 40+ age, 4.5 league. Our team finally won the league title on March 27 and I went 8-2 for the season.
It wasn’t easy, but playing at level 4.5 is about 30% easier than playing at level 5.0. There were no 120+ mph bomb services or young money as fast as lightning chase returns.
Now I can die more easily knowing that our team will be city champions forever in 2022!
Time to play the tennis ranking system?
Given how much fun it was to win again, I have no intention of ever going back to 5.0 level. Nor should I as a man in his mid-40s with a sultry knee and ripped shoulders. Being in 5.0 purgatory for seven years was terrible after the third year.
This desire brings me to a dilemma. Should I play the system or keep doing my best?
Going 8-2 still means I lost twice. However, I believe that at the 4.5 level I can win at least 70% of my matches with a regular doubles partner. However, if I keep winning and win by significant margins, the USTA computer algorithm can automatically push me back to 5.0 which happened to me in 2015.
Therefore, the next time my doubles partner and I are 6-1, 5-1 in a match, it might be wise to strategically lose some games to bring the score closer! Sandbags don’t seem very honorable at all, but it happens all the time.
This is the deal. The USTA tennis rating system itself is unfair.
Fight fire with fire
How is it fair that an injured old man like me who has never played D1 college tennis before has to compete in a league with 20 year olds who have? Ridiculous. If there were separate leagues of 4.5, 4.75, and 5.0, it would solve the skill discrepancy problem. Unfortunately there are not enough participants.
As a result, my solution is to stay at 4.5, to get on better.
Until the USTA rating system improves, I have no other choice. I no longer care about the status of a 5.0 tennis player. Instead, I just want to have fun and play in a suitable league where I can win at least 50% of the time.
Navigating a rigged system
Fortunately, no one cares about recreational tennis except a few diehards who form super teams to try to take the national title. I’m not hurting anyone by not chasing after balls or tearing my shoulders anymore by trying my hardest. Instead, I probably make my opponents happy that they’ve won more games.
But my innocent example of gaming with the USTA tennis rating system makes me wonder how can we compete better on more important things when the system itself is so manipulated? The people who have cheated their way to wealth and power will not return most of it. Instead, they are going to use their ill-gotten gains to get even further ahead.
I know my kids will have a harder than average time going to a good school and getting a good job because of who they are. Yes, they will definitely try harder to get ahead. However, my expectations are low because we are not part of a chosen group of people that society is fighting for.
So what’s the solution?
Accept that the world will always be unfair. Then do what you can to take care of yourself and your family.
Insurance policy for a rigged system
My solution for navigating a manipulated system is to create career insurance policies for my kids.
An insurance policy is building up a rental portfolio. In this way, the children always have a place to live and arrange something if they cannot get a good job after college. If you have an affordable place to live, you can afford to take more risks.
My other solution is to keep my small online business alive for a few more decades. Even if they don’t get job opportunities, I can always hire my kids to do some business development, PR, writing, videography or finance work for Financial Samurai. As the owner of a private company, I can do whatever I want.
My ultimate solution is to generate as much wealth as possible so that there is no need to depend on anyone for survival. In other words, build generational wealth. However, this is a sub-optimal solution because I want my children to earn their financial independence.
Finally, I say try to do things the right way. Your soul will feel great if you succeed. Even if you fail or are much poorer than you could have been, you will feel good knowing you did your best.
If people doubt you, just keep winning
How to feel better about losing tons of money in the stock market?
Readers, what do you think of gaming the system for more wealth and power? Are there any other examples of gaming on the system that I haven’t discussed yet? Have you ever played the system to your advantage? Will there ever be equal opportunities for all?
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This post Gaming The system for more wealth becomes more acceptable
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