Competition: What good is it?!

by Alan Kandel

Competition comes in many forms. Competition can mean having the ability to choose between different dealerships offering different brands and various models within brands when it comes to purchasing or leasing an automobile, for instance. More often than not, this is perceived as a good thing. Further, competition can allow the shipper of a particular good or commodity, the ability to get the best price and/or the level of service desired when choosing from among different competitor modes as it relates to shipping those goods.

Competition also can take the form of a contest, whereby contest entrants or “contestants,” can compete against one another for a prize or monetary award. Probably the example that most comes to mind for those who are of working age is the one where applicants compete for a job. Related to this, is the competition involved in competing to get into college and/or in vying for a seat in a particular class, all done in an effort to fulfill the long-term goal of earning a degree or certificate in a particular course of study. And not to be overlooked is sports, that one competitive arena known the world over. This has particular relevance now being the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in London, England is just around the corner. Competition being what it is, has many facets or sides to it – in other words, it’s complex.

It was about 22 years ago that I found myself a neutral observer (more like spectator) who through no fault of my own was forced to listen to the debate, discussion, call it what you will, between two of my co-workers at the time, this all over which of the two could outdo who in a footrace.

The argument – forgive me – civilized exchange, intensified in both excitement and volume level. Going on for what felt like forever, the lively conversation probably lasted at most, five minutes. I couldn’t help but hear one say to the other that he would even give the other a considerable lead and even with the head-start, the one offering the advantage said he would still prevail which, I presume, is why he offered the head-start in the first place. The other (the party offered the lead), of course, insisted he would be victor, hands down. The challenge that this race was to be, should it take place at all, had transcended beyond mere competition alone; it had elevated to a matter only a bet could settle, apparently.

Not even close. Having heard just about enough, I diplomatically (I think I was diplomatic in my approach, anyway) interrupted, asking them if there was something else they could talk about.

My suggestion worked. The shout’n match ended; talk centered on something other than the incessant, if but verbal “I’m faster than you are! You are not!” slugfest, if you will, going on in my presence, although I can’t tell you on what. But bet your bottom dollar, it wasn’t a minute or two later that the dialogue reverted back to, what else?! The footrace. Who would’ve thought?!

As far as sporting competitions go, this one had all the elements: excitement, heightened, if not, high enthusiasm, competitive spirit and audience participation, albeit more of the interventionary type.

As for the footrace itself or whether or not it ever came off or who won, I have no clue; that’s not all that important. But the exchange that took place in my presence that day has obvious implications for martial arts competition.

And it doesn’t end there.

Competitive sports can help participants improve the skills they bring to the competitive event, be this in baseball, basketball, boxing, football, hockey, martial arts, soccer, swimming, you name it. Whether competitors experience victory or suffer agonizing defeat, regardless, competition, in this sense, can still be a good thing. And last but by no means least, the people who make spectator sports what they are – the spectators, meanwhile, usually feel fulfilled too.

A win-win by any measure. And, with that, let the games begin!

Copyright © Alan Kandel. June 22, 2012.

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