In an article in today’s Independent by Partick Strudwick he finishes with the George Eliot quote regarding those who reject anything other than the very best: “The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand.” I am sure Eliot would have agreed then with the Olympic credo which is “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
But there is such a contast with the credo of the Olympics and the reaction of people to a gold medal and more importantly to those who do not achieve it. It no longer becomes wow! Top 10 in the world. But, forgotten already! Life flashes by and then dead. I watched a rowing final today of which 25 men did not achieve a gold medal and yet years of training was forgotten as they disappeared into the ether even though there was literally only seconds between first and last. A sad indictment on those who celebrate their own brand of success which is wholly analgous to the well being of themselves or those around them. As Strudwick identifies, research study after research study is finding that we are getting more sedentiary, more obese and less active in part because too many only celebrate the ‘best’. The ‘winner’ of a race in which ‘losing’ only deserves sympathy and serves to corrupt any desire to run, jump, throw… just for fun.
Many schools that have pronounced that competition is undermining children’s capacity to be physically and emotionally healthy are berated by those who consider competition to be the best preparation for a life of losing. All I can say is thank goodness they are not allowed near my children and preferably not anywhere near anyone elses either. The demand by those for ‘Gold is everything the rest are nothing’ has led to international drug abuse on a scale where some argue that we should now just legalise it. What fun that would be! The Olympic Steroids run every four years by Glaxo Smithline with free handouts to underweight children.
Then there is the cry for knighthoods. Bradley Wiggins being the odds on favourite it seems. If we are to handout relics from the middle ages and empire why not award them to the one’s that come last. That would motivate people to take part, give their all for a decade and still be remembered for all the effort. Instead we only lionise the ‘winners’ and wonder why everything around us is falling apart. Listen to George Eliot she knew what she was talking about!