When I was in class the other night, we were discussing America as a “victory culture,” and someone mentioned that many recreation athletic leagues in America have begun awarding winner’s trophies to all participants. Rather than only recognizing the victors in athletic competition, parents and league coordinators seem to be more interested in preserving young people’s feelings than rewarding the winner’s efforts.
Though the room was divided on exactly how we each felt about the subject, there were several objections to this notion, and I must say that I agree with them fully. This is not coming from an internal belief that our country must always be number one. Rather it comes from the idea that competition breeds excellence and that a victorious camaraderie can establish bonds that last a lifetime.
Have you ever wondered why some war veterans or famous sports teams meet on a yearly basis? The experience of battle, stained with sweat and blood, forms a tight-nit fraternal bond among its participants that cannot be extinguished by the hands of time. These collective experiences bind teammates together, ensuring that they will never be alone in their memories.
Winning is not everything, but excellence recognized is eternal for those lucky enough to experience it. If you have the ability to savor a win with those that you earned it with, it only gets sweeter.
I do not think that it is a coincidence that we as a country recognize the soldiers of WWII as the “greatest generation,” while many Vietnam Vets have struggled with acceptance and recognition since their unceremonious return from home.
From WWII to the Miracle on Ice and the focus on World Cup soccer the past two years (men’s and women’s), America invests their time in idolizing winners. Is this a bad thing? While an obsession can be dangerous, humanity has a natural disposition to root for the winner. Were Romans known for their mercy towards the weaker gladiators or celebrating the loser?
While we should not take pleasure in another person’s loss, we must look to Darwin to finally put this to rest. Life is a survival test of the fittest, and we should all strive to be the best that we can. There are many ways to be successful in this world and we should encourage the talents that lie dormant in everyone, not focus on whether people may or may not have their feelings hurt by losing.