Monday, October 25, 2010

"Because I can" doesn't cut it.

Ultimately, I hope we participate in sport for the joy of it. Bruce Kidd, Canadian Olympian said, "Sport is a pleasure of the flesh." It feels good to push our bodies, and competition enables us to push harder than we could on our own.

One of the values of sport is that it can teach us something about ourselves.

Thus, if we find that our competitiveness causes pain to others, it is my hope that we would desist.

By extension if we realized that what we were doing was unfair, unseemly, without grace, that we would stop doing it.

Take my Nina Kraft example, if I am beating Natascha and I know I am doing it because I cheated, I hope that I would feel bad enough about it to stop doing it. Natascha was given the title after Nina was disqualified but Natascha never got to enjoy the win by receiving her acclaim on Alii Drive. Nina knew she was dirty.
Similarly, Oscar Periero never got the acknowledgement on the podium on the Champs Elysees at the finish - Floyd Landis stole that from him, and Floyd knew he was dirty.

The win was meaningless for Nina and Floyd because they were disqualified, all they did was steal the rightful glory from the other kid. I hope for better from our sports heroes.

If you are struggling with this issue, and you should, good. We all should. Fairness is a fundamental concern in sport. Something I emphasized to the rugby and basketball teams I taught as a schoolteacher.

"Just because we can" is a phrase we hear all too often when clear thinking escapes us. Think, "why do you do this?" "Because I can." is a pathetic response. It reflects a lack of understanding about ourselves, and is especially common from pro athletes. Hardly surprising, few of them earned their graduations from high school or college honestly, like the rest of us had to.

"Because I can" has become a de facto excuse for getting away with stuff even though the person concerned knows it's unfair. So my response to your question above is that if "outside help" is understood as being unfair in a triathlon, then an honorable person knows whether "teaming up" is fair or not without being told. Even though it may be impossible to enforce.

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