Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.
Winning isn’t the main thing, it is the only thing.
I could go on, but if you’ve been following the Rio Olympics, you’ve already heard plenty of trite remarks about striving for excellence and the importance of winning.
So instead, I’m going to make a case for giving lots of things a go, sticking to the rules and not feeling too disappointed if our efforts fall short.
You don’t have to agree with me, but I think this approach deserves some air time because catering to winners and the elite all the time leaves a lot of us out in the cold.
In your typical Olympic event, and in most other competitions, there is only one winner and a load of losers.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with winning or trying to win or developing a special talent in an athletic pursuit or in anything else.
I’m just saying we shouldn’t go to all ends to win and if we don’t happen to have any special talents we shouldn’t just give up and go home.
We can still strive to be sort of good or even better than average… and the beauty of this approach is it can be practiced comfortably in several fields.
I’ve tried a lot of sports in my day; baseball, basketball, tennis, football (both American and the real one), lacrosse, hockey and several more and I’ve never progressed beyond the advanced mediocre stage in any of them.
The thing is, if I had, there would have been pressure on me to concentrate on that sport and I might have missed out on a lot of fun learning the others.
That pretty much covers my concerns about shooting for excellence in everything we choose to do, and it may just come down to personal preferences.
I’m sure lots of star athletes don’t regret any of the time they’ve put in developing their skills.
Putting too much importance on winning, however, can be far more dangerous.
The need to come out on top all the time can take the joy out of what should be recreational activities and it can also do something far worse.
It can encourage people to cheat. We see it with performance enhancing drugs in cycling, athletics, weightlifting and many other sports and we see it every time we watch a slow motion replay of football defenders and strikers holding onto each other during most corner kicks.
And those of us who play racquet sports like tennis or badminton see it quite often on line calls.
I find it quite sad how far some people will stoop just so they can say they won a game.
Winning isn’t everything… and it isn’t the only thing either. I think it is far more important to be a fair decent person.
But then again, I’m not going to get too excited about watching anyone do that.
I’d much rather switch on the box and watch some elite athletes do their thing in Rio.