We wrote last week that people care so much about sporting results because this reinforces their innate sense of fairness and gives them hope that merit will stand out in the end. But what when it doesn’t? What of those who win by sharp practices?
We, almost uniformly, respond with shock, anger, and disappointment to news of ball-tampering, performance-enhancing drugs, and even character flaws of our superstars in their lives outside of their sporting endeavours. The bigger the star or team the worse the outrage. Doubts begin swirling -could this be the reason they were so great for all this while? Is this the first time they did it or just the first time they got caught? This strikes at the heart of our belief system -could it be that what actually matters is not your talent, or perseverance, or hard work? Could it be that the key skill to inculcate is “how to get away with it?” God forbid, that this is true!
When they stand to lose so much in the public eye, why do these sports superstars choose the road of fraud? Why do they want to win so badly that they are willing to disregard all that is right and just and fair? The answer is that these stars are also just human -with all the frailties that all of us share. To paraphrase John Candy, the coach of the Jamaican bobsled team in the movie “Cool Runnings”, “When you make winning your whole life, you just have to keep on winning.” “A Gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you aren’t enough without it then you’ll never be enough with it.” Maybe it’s time for our sporting heroes to learn how to be enough -even without their laurels.