I don’t trust even numbers. I assume that every Top 10 list either contains one too many entries or is missing one or two deserving entries that were axed in order to keep the list at a conventionally round number.
I have never liked the emphasis placed on round numbers in sports, such as the prestige attached to 100 yards of rushing in an NFL game. Is 100 yards of rushing really any more representative of excellence than 95 or 98 yards?
I don’t think so.
Yet just this week, I heard an NFL analyst say that a team is struggling to run the ball based upon the fact that no player on the team had rushed for 100 yards since the beginning of the season.
I was left wondering how the team had performed in terms of rushing the football since week 5.
Was the team using a running-back-by-committee approach, in which the ball is shared by several players in order to avoid wearing out any one player?
Or was there a player on the team consistently rushing for 80-90 yards per game, and if so, is this really an indicator that the team can’t effectively run the ball?
I don’t think so.
Yet this round number has come to symbolize effectiveness in terms of rushing the football, even though it is often statistically irrelevant.
With this in mind, I am fascinated that after 235 years of nationhood, the United States ended up with the conveniently round number of fifty states.
Not forty or sixty. The delightfully satisfying round number of fifty.
It makes me wonder if Puerto Rico might have already become a state had Hawaii been our 49th state instead of our 50th state.
Or if the District of Columbia might have been granted statehood in order to achieve the round number.
I also wonder if perhaps our round number of states has helped prevent Puerto Rico from becoming a state?
After all, who wants fifty-one states when we can have a number like fifty?
See what I mean? Fifty seems too convenient. Too round.
And history is a messy piece of business. There are too many people with too many motivating factors involved in decision making over too long a period of time to believe that we carved up enormous portions of the North American continent into separate political entities over a period of more than 150 years, then tacked on two non-contiguous territories and just happened to arrive at the number fifty.
Fifty. It’s too damn round for me.
I don’t trust it.