Monday, 30 July 2012

In Praise of Losers



In sport either you win or you lose. The Olympic Games reminds us of that with the constant reiteration of the Gold medallist above the also rans of bronze & silver, the rest of the losers tidily out of the way.

Competition encourages & rewards excellence. Citius, altius, fortius takes effort & application. Achievement has a price: for top level athletes a life dedicated to excellence. That is a price worth paying for Usain Bolt, it may be a horrendous waste for many who will never be top tier.

Life is not sport. While there are no simple metrics to allow us see except in extremes, what might amount to gold medal success, there are multiple winners. Competition does not mean elimination but sharpening, a delivery of improved goods & services to all of us.

As the Olympics progresses there will be an orgy of publicity surrounding the winners. Chest thumping patriotic fervour will break out. Countries that have spent vast amount of wealth on elite athletics & sports programmes need to trumpet victory lest the ordinary people whose wealth was stolen might question the theft. Losers will go home to silence, just glad to have competed.

We should be glad they competed too. Also rans won't be shamed with revelations of cheating. They compete to thee best of their ability & get on with their lives. Too many gold medals are tarnished with syringes. The good sports that never stand on that podium, never hear an anthem play for them, won't have to dilute urine samples with whisky or tranquillise a horse brutalised by banned training methods either. 

It may be with that vast army of good sports that real victory lies.


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