Level playing field
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. A metaphorical playing field is said to be level if no external interference affects the ability of the players to compete fairly. Government regulations tend to provide such fairness, since all participants must abide by the same rules. Examples of such regulation: building codes, material specifications and zoning restrictions, which create a starting point / a minimum standard --- a "level playing field".
Examples where governments, regulators and sports associations have tried to create a 'level playing field':
- (Education) Students from low-income families can be considered for a scholarship so they are able to study at a university. (opposite of a handicap; see below)
- (Web 2.0) In the past, knowledge creation and authoring were the monopoly of a select few, while most people were at the consumer end. With advent of a worldwide internet connectivity, many people are contributing to knowledge authoring through the interactive, collaborative, and open tools of Web 2.0. Knowledge construction is being democratized.
- (Business in general) All companies in a given field are obliged to pay the same percentage of tax on their annual income to the government every year.
- (Banking Business) Every bank needs a banking licence to be allowed to offer banking products to consumers and retailers. You cannot start a bank without permission of the financial regulators within your state.
- (Automobile Industry) Manufacturers must prove that each car being offered is "safe" to drive.
- (Sports) Each team is allowed to field the same number of players as the opposing team.
- Ski jumpers all jump from the same height during competitions.
- Formula 1 cars and their drivers all have been submitted to the same set of rules before participating in a race. Even the combination of the weight of the car and driver has been corrected and made equal in relationship to their opponents.
Handicapping might be thought of as the opposite concept, of unequal rules designed to make the outcome of play more equal.
See also 
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