While the Olympic Games motto is “Higher, Faster, Stronger” which is a very competitive and challenging phrase, the Olympic Creed summarises the ideals behind the Olympic games very well. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
As we watch the unfolding of the Asian Games which fall under the auspices of the Olympic Committee and therefore embody the same spirit, have we seen the ideals of competition-not-victory lived out, or are Asian nations “win at all costs teams”?
There is an absolute allure about winning and the fame it brings. The World Cups of Soccer, Rugby and Cricket, the “majors” of golf and tennis, Formula One, the world championships and the world rankings all are fervently competed for and the winners feted and idolized. We all know Federer, Woods, Williams, Bolt, Hamilton, France and the All Blacks, but we have absolutely forgotten the runners up in even third fourth and fifth place. Shame on us.
But the premise that competing enhances our performance, hones our skills and focuses our attention is absolutely true, we need competition (and open results) to help us face the reality of our skills and achievements. A last place in a race or an examination or a pitch for a contract, should be a wake-up call. It is not shameful to be in need of more practice or more training, it is simply practical, and should be done.
The notion held by some educationalists that children should be protected from their results in tests and exams is just silly. We all need to know where we are and what we are capable of, and most importantly what we like doing, because when you truly love doing something then you will try so much harder to be good at it.
So let us hope that the successes and failures of the Asian Games will have taught us something. We need to compete, but we also need to collaborate to make success through real teamwork, between athletes and coaches, and managers! We need to understand that there is always someone “higher, faster and stronger” in sport, in education, in life, so we need to raise our game to meet them but enjoy the battle at every moment!