I love the Olympics! I can’t wait for it to come again – summer or winter, I love em both. To me, the Olympic games epitomize what’s great about the American ideal: sacrifice, competition, commitment, reward. These athletes put more time in training that we do in our 9-5’s, living on a dream to become the best. They don’t give up, they work through injuries, setbacks, whatever, just to be able to compete against other athletes to see who’s best.
There is no other arena that I can think of that can at the same time show the agony of disappointment and the joy of victory. Take the 100m hurdles, for example. The pre-race favorite, Lolo Jones, hit the 2nd to last hurdle and lost the race. Watching her reaction as she crossed the finish line, one could feel the agony of what she was going through: she knew she had the race in her hand, she knew the gold was hers, and wham, she came up 2 inches short on a hurdle and it was gone. Poof! But then, Dawn Harper, who was the third USA qualifier during the Olympic trials, had a break out personal best run and finished golden. She was amazed, stunned, and just couldn’t believe it. All the work she put it, the commitment, the sacrifice, the competition, and then the reward. I love it!
How long will this last, I wonder?
More and more, competition is frowned upon as having no compassion for those that can’t compete at the same level. In the guise of being tolerant of everyone’s feelings, we’re allowing people to strike down that which makes us all better: the desire to succeed!
Competition makes us better, it forces us to do things we otherwise would not have done in order to improve. It teaches us how to sacrifice; how to commit. If we’re all told that no one is to be better than someone else, what happens to the those ideals? They do transcend athletics, after all.
And then there’s the great evil: reward. Great effort should results in reward. Yet more and more we see less emphasis on being rewarded. We have little league teams now where everyone gets a trophy, just for participating. There are no awards for those that went the extra mile. When I was in 9th grade, I was on the freshman football team. At the end of the season, the coaches handed out letters to everyone (letters, for those of you that don’t know, go on letter jackets, and one is supposed to earn these by playing). I remember it like it was yesterday, everyone got them – even the jerk offs who didn’t try and didn’t give a damn. To me, the letter was worthless, and I never acknowledged it, even to this day.
Am I alone in this feeling? I think not, but the voices are growing more and more subdued.
Simply put, if there is no reward, there will be no effort, there will be no commitment. Without reward, one can not have competition, and there will be no success. Of course, I think that is exactly what a certain group of people want: all of us at the same level, none better than anyone else, none higher in stature. My insides just scream at this prospect, but I can’t deny the fear that it’s coming.
In the mean time, I have the Olympics to watch, and I can marvel at someone’s ability to do something so much better than I could ever hope to do.