Monday, October 11, 2010

how to run a straight race

"where does the power come from to see the race to its end?
from within."

the modern Olympic movement drew much of its spirit from the late Victorian/early Edwardian British school sports ethos. when Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympics in the late 1800s he sought to replicate on a global scale the lessons found in athletics by the British educational system. because so much of modern sport derives its worldview from the Olympics, it is from this that we have developed many of our notions of athletics as being associated with character, virtue, and values, including those of courage, commitment, cooperation, composure, discipline, diligence, decisiveness, sacrifice, sportsmanship, and truth. it is also from this that we find the premise of sports is not about victories or records, but rather about development of the self attained through competition with others.

the temptation is to think that since that time the nature of sport has changed, and that such ideals are antiquated, romantic, unrealistic, hopelessly sentimental daydreams of an outdated, delusional, and by some accounts misguided era. in the years since Victorian & Edwardian England, the focus has very much become one of victories and records, promoted as epic story via drama built upon high stakes raised by national pride and unimaginable wealth and unlimited glory. it's easy to think that development of the self was a quixotic delusion.

but such a perception is dangerous. because it leads to cynicism. and cynicism leads to despair. and despair leads to a loss of faith. and a loss of faith leads to an abandonment of ethics. and without ethics, victories and records becomes ends in themselves, justifying their achievement despite whatever costs--despite all costs--to ourselves and to our surroundings. it's no wonder that so many see no point to running a straight race.

which is unfortunate, because such a perception is also a fallacy.

because no matter the glory or wealth or pride or stakes, no matter the drama or the story, no matter the victories or records, we can never get away from ourselves. because everything fades and is erased in time, leaving us just with what we began, and we began with us alone.

which means that we do in sport is not the result of anything other than what we do ourselves. and that who are as athletes is a reflection of who we are as people. and how we compete is a reflection of how we live.

and how we live is who we are.

so when our race is run we should be able to say we ran it true.

in which case, sport is not about victories or records, no matter all the pressures to the contrary, but rather instead about the only thing that remains when all of it is done: the self.

1 comment:

Miles of the Journey said...

From one of the antiquated thinkers out there : great post. Love it!

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