Level Playing Field

The World Is Flat

In commerce, a level playing field is a concept about fairness, not that each player has an equal chance to succeed, but that they all play by the same set of rules.

In a game played on a playing field, such as rugby, one team would have an unfair advantage if the field had a slope. Since some real-life playing fields do in fact have slopes, it is customary for teams to swap ends of the playing field at half time. A metaphorical playing field is said to be level if no external interference affects the ability of the players to compete fairly.

The metaphor of a level paying field has been extend to publishing in the digital era. In the past, their were high barriers to entry in publishing. With the advent of worldwide internet connectivity, it is now easier for many people to publish their writing, through websites and self-publishing platforms.

Handicapping might be thought of as the opposite concept, of unequal rules designed to make the outcome of play more equal.

Some government regulations are intended to provide such fairness, since all participants must abide by the same rules, such as building codes, material specifications, and zoning restrictions, which create a starting point and a minimum standard. However, they can have the opposite effect, for example if larger firms find it easier to pay for fixed costs of regulation. It may be added that if the rules affect different participants differently, then they are not actually the same.

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