Suppose Team X and Team Y are playing a series of games, the outcome of which is very important to both teams. Team X has superior equipment to Team Y. 

Now for some pop psychology…

Are any of the following statements conceivable?

A) In a show of sportsmanship, Team X uses inferior equipment in an attempt to evenly compete against Team Y. 

B) In a show of bravado, machismo, aggression, Team X exerts its full and best arsenal of equipment against Team Y. 

C) Team Y, being under-equipped, resorts to “dirty” tactics in an attempt to “evenly” compete against Team X. 

D) Knowing that many fans, reporters, and others are watching and that this is a unique opportunity, Team Y goes to great pains to play strictly by the rules and exhibit stellar sportsmanship. 

Now, does the conceivability of any of the above change if, in addition to be better equipped, Team X is also in the position of adjudicating the games? 

Does the conceivability of any of the above change if the rules that Team X enforces during its own matches against Team Y are penned by Governing Body Z, an organization that funds and generally supports Team X. 

In light of the previous two changes in the scenario, is there any extent of Team Y exhibiting behavior C that might be deemed “excusable” or “reasonable”? Is there any extent of Team X exhibit behavior B that might be deemed “to be expected”? 

Finally, given that each of Team X, Team Y, and Governing Body Z are collectives comprised of individuals who might not all behave in the same way, do statements about the actions of any of these collectives make any sense? Put differently: does one bad apple ruin the whole bunch? 

Note: It does not matter how Team X came to be playing against Team Y, it only matters that right now, they are playing against each other. (This point is to diffuse the anticipated question: how did such a ragtag team get to be matched against the superior Team X? It doesn’t matter; they’re playing each other now.)

For potential commentors: I am most interested in how you think statements A-D succeed or fail in capturing the most accurate yet succinct set of conceivable responses from both Team X and Team Y to the scenario (assuming that Team X and Team Y DO exhibit a singular collective behavior). 

What I believe to be excellent summaries – full of pop psychology, which I mean as neither a compliment nor detraction – of the situation without going into specifics about the situation can be found here and here

You can also read my fictional account of a different scenario but one which bears similarities here, in Evolve Part 3: Emergent Order. Note that the subtitle, Emergent Order, comes from a number of scenes and themes in the trilogy, but one scene in particular which inspires the subtitle is the storming of the compound, the scenario noted in the first sentence of this paragraph. 

-JD Cross