Before, I discuss this article that appeared last Summer in The Guardian, I wanted to tell you my left-handed story.
I was in grade school in the early to mid-1960s. I was born left-handed and only knew how to write left-handed (my socially conservative parent never a big deal about it). In my English/Writing class in grade school, my teacher use to wrap my knuckles with a ruler for writing left-handed and told me to write the “correct” way.
My parents were called in and the Principal and them agreed that I could continue to write left-handed. I assumed the Principal discussed this with my English/Writing teacher.
For the rest of the time I was i n her class, she would walk by me when I was writing and mumble something about me not writing “normal” like the rest of the kids.
We left-handers make up a small percentage of the population, but we are an eclectic, artsy, creative group of people. Regardless of early civilizations supposed use of the left hand for wiping your butt, and never to shake hands with, are slowly fading away. I still remember the time my teacher tried to shame me for doing what was just natural for me some 50+ years later.
Why Some Left-Handed Athletes Gain An Advantage
Approximately 12% of the US population are left-handed – but standing out in a co-operative world can help some thrive.
Athletes could help us understand why most people are right-handed.
In the United States, despite scientific agreement that it’s partly genetic, the rate of left-handedness has fluctuated over time. According to a 2009 paper titled “the history and geography of human handedness”, American left-handedness declined before 1900, then picked up again, reaching approximately 12% – possibly because left-handedness is no longer “corrected” in schoolchildren.
To see why left-handers are still a minority, two mathematicians (both right-handed) analyzed athletes. Their study, published in 2012, hypothesized that the delicate balance between cooperation and competition has evolved humans towards our current rate of left-handedness. In a perfectly cooperative world, 100% of us would be right-handed, and in a perfectly competitive one, we’d be equally split 50%-50%.
The academics turned that theory into a mathematical model which they tested on several sports. The model accurately predicted the percentage of left-handed elite athletes in baseball, boxing, hockey, fencing and table tennis. The more competitive the sport, the higher the share of left-handers (over 50% of top baseball players are left-handed): as the report says: “physical competition, on the other hand, favors the unusual. In a fight, a left-hander in a right-handed world would have an advantage.” That’s why only 4% of golfers – who compete in a sport where you are not physically interacting with others – are left-handed.
So, whichever hand you rely on, you can rest assured you are contributing to the fine balance of human society as a whole.
Source: Chalabi, Mona, International Left-Handers Day: why some lefty athletes gain an advantage, The Guardian, Sport Datablog, August 13, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/datablog/2017/aug/13/left-handed-athletes-advantage.