You Crossed the Line

Competition is your drive, it’s what gets you through the race or game.  “Yes, I am tired and hurting but if I stop, I’m going to lose.  I’m not stopping.  This is not just a game, it’s everything!”  Most coaches would love to see that kind of competitive drive in an athlete.  It sure beats the lethargic “whatever” attitude that many  athletes develop.  But at times does that competitive edge push passed the line of acceptable?

Competitive nature is learned.  I learned it from my parents.  Thanks mom and dad! They were the ones that constantly put me up against my siblings for a little harmless competition.  Those harmless competitive matches usually ended up with someone becoming emotionally if not physically injured.  We also came home with some pretty hard feelings toward the other sibling.  All in good fun.

When we were younger, us kids were seriously into the presidential fitness program in PE.  So my mom and dad had each of us kids run the mile against one another.  Nothing like competition to help improve our times.  Now, I am the oldest and being the oldest I felt it my divine right to be the winner.  After all, I was born first and therefore should finish first.  So there we are running the mile, my two brothers and I striding neck and neck.   I had started out in the lead, but exhausted myself a little too quickly.  My younger brother passes me.  “Thats okay, as long as I’m not last.”  Shortly after that thought, my other even younger brother started to leave me behind.  So, I reached out, grabbed the collar of his shirt, and yanked, causing him to the hit the ground hard. I took second place!

My dad used to take my brother and I to the church basektball gym and set up a scrimmage between us.  Both of us fighting for the approval of our father, as well as the “I’m More Talented than You” Title.  Our games were closely matched.  I won some games, He won others.  But then I figured him out.  My brother did not do well with trash talk.  We were supposed to call all our own fouls and every time he called one, I called him out.  “Can’t handle playing ball with a girl huh?”  “Wow! I barely touched you.  You are such a wimp.”  He’d get so angry.   Thats when I knew I had him.  I figured out how to push his buttons, and he let the frustration effect his play.  I won a lot of those games. We always went home with a deep sense of hatred toward one another.  Hey, if that is the price of winning, I’ll take it.

No coach, that I know of, wants this kind of attitude in their athletes.  I look back at these experiences and see how I held winning above everything.  Above the rules of the game, above honesty, above consideration, above my relationship with my brothers.  Not acceptable! I think it is required to want to win in a sport.  You should always want to beat the competition.  And the competition only gets better when that sport is a passion.  The game is the most fun when you play to win.  But win or lose, the game is going to end… and then what do you have? You may have a big trophy.  You may not.  But when that trophy is compromising respect for others as well as yourself it doesn’t mean anything.  I see athletes that put everything into a sport.  They spend hours upon hours working to improve their game.  They do whatever they have too to win, even if it means beocming an unsportsmanlike cheater.  They leave everything else in life behind.  After all this sport is everything!

Sports can only take you so far especaily if you aren’t honest.  I mean just look at Lance Armstrong.  Sports can teach you valuable lessons.  They can teach you skills, improvement, hardwork, team work, importance of winning and losing, and how to do so with respect.  There is no respect in cheating.  I’d like to apologize sincerely to my brothers, I didn’t realize that when I was 8… okay I was 12.   Although I do realize that neither one of my brothers can beat me in a long distance race anymore! Winning is obviously everyone’s goal, but when you place it above everything you are going to get in trouble.  I Know I did.  Your sport isn’t everything, but it can teach you how to acheive anything well within the line of whats acceptable.

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