With the Olympics upon us I have been thinking about competition. Is it part of being human; something innate or has it been cultivated? Some would argue that co-operation is the main reason we did not die on the savanna. If this is true, at what point did it become advantageous to be competitive if it has? We may have never made it to the moon were it not for competition with the Russians but how has the moon helped humankind? Simply put, is the world a better place when the Chinese throw a javelin 18 inches further than the Americans?
Competition does bring us together. We gather in arenas, fields and gymnasiums to participate in competition or witness it. Though we gather we also separate from each other. The parents from one division sit apart from those of another. Our children associate with others in white, yellow or black. Is it any wonder we see and draw lines when our skin is different as well?
We once shared with other tribes and they us. Neither knew when the need would strike. In an age when countries cry out for relief from oppression and hunger, we gather and watch elite athletes riding horses over fences. I’m not saying we should butcher the horse and feed the hungry but if it was my horse and you were my starving neighbour what does it say about me if I don’t?
No doubt competition arose in times of abundance as it continues today. Hunters honed their skills which were entertaining and invaluable during the hunt. If this is where competition was born why did our ignorant ancestors have enough sense to see everyone was fed? Would the hunter have the esteem of the tribe if they shot at targets while the village sat starving?
I wont get into the dollars that go into each athlete and each medal but we are trading huge currency for trinkets and national pride. I may be solitary in my thoughts but I would find more pride in my country if it reached further into opposing nations and stood not on a podium but on the back of a truck tossing bags of rice. Couldn’t we keep the competitive spirit alive if we had elite athletes attempting to throw that bag of rice the furthest? We could set up hurdles between villages and if you find the idea of eating horse distasteful we could fly that same horse not to a stadium in England but to a country where it could pull a cart with something people actually need. Enjoy the Olympics and don’t forget to share a Coke.
In the spirit of competition I will be checking out the comments section for the most creative and original sport we can come up with for Third World Olympics.