“Meaningful competitions” was the working title of my second book until marketing decided “The Playing Fields of Eton: Equality and Excellence in Modern Meritocracy” would be better. It is, but “meaningful competitions” was a central theme in the book and, in fact, remains a key interest of mine, in work — research, teaching, service — and play.

This site explores meaningful competitions, very broadly understood, in a variety of areas and ways. I am a political theorist, interested in questions such as what is competition? what makes competition meaningful? where should competition happen, and where shouldn’t it? For example, should education be competitive? And whether it is or not, what are the measures we use to talk about achievement, excellence, and merit?

I am also involved in the emerging field of learning analytics, a member of the University of Michigan Provost’s Learning Analytics Task Force. In that capacity, I am interested in affordances of “big data” to help us understand the things we do at the university.

Finally, I’m a recreational athlete. Sports, for me, is of the adult-onset variety: I didn’t do much as a kid. So I approach sports as a newcomer academic egghead will, with intellectual curiosity about what it’s all about.