Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My wife and I recently attended a sports day of friends child. I have never attended one of these sports days before and it was actually quite good fun and really nice to see the little people running and having fun doing it. while we were there, Bob (the oldest child) who was supporting his brother, said to his mom, "It is not about winning, but about participating that counts".
This struck me as very odd because it is against everything that today's society throws at us. It was amazing to hear and even more amazing to see that he actually believed it. I brushed it off as absolute rubbish but I started to thinking about it. At what point does that belief turn into winning is everything? At what point does that line become second place is first loser?
Today we are seeing professional sports starts getting banned for the use of  banned substance use. Today we see professional cyclists in every country tested both in and out of competition and banned for the use of EPO and other muscle enhancing agents. South African rugby players have been suspected of using banned substances too, although all charges were dropped. Local provincial players have been banned for steroid use. the worst of all this is that recently school boys were found to be using banned substances to enhance their performance on the rugby pitch. 
In this case, it takes less than 10 years to go from "its all about participation" to illegal performance enhancing drug use. Who turns the sentence around? who changes the persons mind? Parents? teachers? Coaches? Television? I do not know.

The full circle turns though and grabs again. Only the top few percent ever get to compete at the professional level. In fact, at any competitive level at all! To the 35 000 cyclists that pack Cape Town streets for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, less than about 200 riders go for the top honours. That is less than 0.5%. The rest? they do it for participation! The 18 000 comrades runners, only about 50 can win it. You do the math!

In the end, the wisdom of a seven year old boy wins. "Mom, it is not about winning. It is all about the participation".

For the privacy of the family and friends, the names in this blog post have been changed.

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