There was a time when statements like “he’s super competitive” or “she takes really winning seriously” would be considered compliments. These days a competitive attitude is treated as a character flaw. Over and over I hear people knock on good ole’ competition.
Remember when kids used to be embarrassed when they couldn’t do a pull up? When you finished poorly in the fitness test in middle school? When a business was driven by the concept that America was the best country in the world and we needed to work harder to stay ahead of the Russians and Ivan Drago. It was competition keeping us motivated; keeping us striving TO BE THE BEST in everything. Now we spend more energy protecting ourselves and others from the possibility of not doing well that we’ve removed any pain associated with being below average.
So go ahead, give out another sportsmanship award to everyone on your kid’s soccer team. Make sure the really talented kid doesn’t play any more minutes than the fat kid who can’t remember which basket he is supposed to score in. Pat yourself on the back when you hang up your “finisher” ribbon from the Typhoid Fever Prevention 5k fun run/slow walk.
As obesity rates continue to grow and emerging markets take another job or two from our unmotivated workforce we’ll be able to take solace in the fact that by pretending there are no winners makes it easier to pretend there are also no losers. And we can all go home with a ribbon.