The Olympics are probably one of those occasions that some of us love and hate at the same time. Love to hear the human interest stories and to see our national tallies grow, but can’t wait for it to end so that life gets back to normal and our regular television schedule returns!
I have given up watching the event. Why? I seem to have not been sent the memo that said that we were all to change our attitudes and to castigate and criticise anyone who did not win. We, as arm chair experts, apparently, are not to consider a second or third place as worthy of praise.
Indeed, if someone wins a silver medal, we must at all costs restrain ourselves from saying “Well done!”; but rather point out that they failed to get gold. The more seasoned critics point out how, if we had just clipped our pubic hair, or tweezed our nostril hair, we would have gained on our competition. Less than number one is failure.
I feel such a fool, for as a teacher I stupidly urge my students to have a go. Silly me, I stand in front of them and tell them that it doesn’t matter how well they do, as long as they try. Moronically, I also suggest that they try to have fun along the way. If only I had known that I was blowing against the wind, I would have alerted them to one of the truths of modern life: failure is anything less than number one.
Also, failure means public humiliation and the right of anyone and everyone to offer their opinions and criticisms. Failure means that you must not for a moment falter in the stiff upper lip and instantly done your sack cloth as punishment – punishment for not meeting our false expectations, and bringing reality to bear in the form of not everyone being able to finish first.
The memo must have stated that second or third means that you did something wrong; not that you tried your best, but someone else was better on the day. Every action of your last few weeks, months or every minute since the day you were born will need to be dissected by media on a 24 hour news cycle until the become distracted by another victim.
Why devote years of your life to a sport, give up self indulgence and spontaneity for discipline and restraint, when people who never say no to a second helping, and rarely rise from their bed before 7am will freely gut you at the first moment they sniff vulnerability?
No wonder our children are so apathetic. Why try if you can’t be number one, because who wants to be a second placer and therefore a failure? If you don’t try, you can’t fail, so that makes it all right doesn’t it? We can’t disappoint the public and the media if we remain in our place and try nothing new, aspire to nothing and just maintain our allotted status quo, can we? Winning is so important that we need to consider cheating and manipulating for gain that podium position, right?
Risk? Forget it that is for fools.
I am so glad I finally got the message otherwise I would have continued leading children astray by my urging that it is not whether you win or lose it is how you play the game. I have to get a new tee shirt, Win, Win, Win, or we attack.