“That’s like comparing apples and oranges,” Fred told Rick, as they argued who was the better athlete, former baseball great Hank Aaron or former basketball great Michael Jordan.
“People say that, but you can compare apples and oranges. They have similarities as well as differences.” Rick, a future physicist, had a keen mind and liked to argue.
“Go ahead,” said Fred, the doubter.
“OK. They are both fruit, round and roughly the same size. Both can be grown in America. Both give healthful vitamins. Both have seeds you don’t eat. They have their differences. Apples can be eaten unpeeled; often they are cooked; you can make an apple pie but not an orange pie. Oranges are juicier, have more vitamin C, have separate segments, and are orange inside, where apples are white. Apples and oranges are more alike than grapes and grapefruit, for example and less alike than applies and pears”
“Fine, fine. How do you apply that to comparing Aaron and Jordan?”
“If we really wanted to do it right, we’d need a lot of statistics.”
“Such as?” Fed was still questioning, Rick still answering.
“How long did each play professionally? How many times did each win Most Valuable Player? How many times did their teams win their league championship? How much were they paid to play in comparison to others in the same sport? Where is each ranked in the all-time listing of great players and compared to how many others?”
“I’m getting the picture, but basketball is a sport and baseball is just a game.” Fred was not letting Rick off the hook easily.
“I know people say that. No doubt that in basketball running and jumping and rebounding all are hard and take speed, like other sports. Shooting and dribbling take more skill, less strength and endurance. But baseball has a lot of running, by the batters around the bases, by the fielders, especially the outfielders. Pitching takes strength and skill and endurance, and playing catcher for nine innings is a real challenge.”
“So you think Jordan was the better athlete?” Fred asked.
“I like Mike!” Rick replied.
Sometimes you can compare apples and oranges…or Aarons and Jordans, but it isn’t easy.
One of our fifty instructive short stories for young readers.