At All Costs?

Have we made winning our god? Is winning so important that we will do anything to succeed?

In many ways it seems like it…and that is a tragedy in so many ways.

Whatever happened to the thrill of the competition? to an athlete doing their best, using their natural skills?

Yes, the current Lance Armstrong debacle has precipitated these thoughts, but he is not the only one who has made what I would consider extremely poor choices. One has to only look at the recent sportswriters’ votes for baseball’s Hall of Fame to realize that there are individuals in other sports who have done everything they could to come out as winners.

Maybe in the short term…but not in the long term.

I remember being thrilled to watch Armstrong cycle…when he won his multiple yellow jerseys…when he came back from his bout with cancer to show that nothing could keep him down…

I thought he was one of what seemed to be becoming somewhat of a rarity–a superstar role model who was taking a strong stance against performance-improving drugs and proving that it was possible to win based on good old-fashioned training and innate skills.


Now I see him as a tragedy. But not just him alone.

We all bear some responsibility. We have elevated winners to such high pedestals that we make it almost impossible for them to have bad days. We’ve put winning at all costs ahead of wise stewardship of our bodies. We’ve said that it’s not so important how you win as it is that you win.

That has to change.

I am fully in support of acknowledging and honoring (clean) winners in athletics and other activities. I also understand that in some situations there can only be one individual who comes out on top.

But I think that there is also significant value in understanding–and practicing–the African concept of ubuntu. Archbishop Tutu defined it this way:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

We are interconnected–and that can be in ways that support and build up…or that tear us down and make us wonder about and suspect each other.

Which way will we choose to live…at all costs?

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