Thursday, October 23, 2014

Compassionate Competition

Okay, I admit I was screaming at the TV when Kansas City brought in five runs in the 6th inning against the Giants. My dream team, on a long winning streak and defeating the Royals decisively in the first game of the World Series, was vulnerable after all. In that first game, with the Giants ahead 7-0, my wife was feeling sorry for all the Kansas City fans and even with my long history as a sensitive male, I couldn’t relate to her point of view. It’s all about your jubilation when your team wins! No room for compassion!

But amidst my 6th inning pain and the subsequent failure of the Giants to narrow the gap, I did have a moment of happiness for all those Kansas City fans who gave away their children’s college funds to attend the game. My pain was their happiness— and that helped ease the pain. Plus make the Series just a tad more interesting.

I’ve spent my life in a school community that downplays competition and for good reasons. But we do play volleyball with a net and we do keep score. And etymology helps. The word competition comes from the Late Latin “Competere”— to strive in common. “Com” is like “con” in Spanish— “together with”— “petere” means to strive, to seek, also the root of “petition.” Whether it be the Spelling Bee, the Battle of the Bands or the Baseball Game, people and teams in competition with each other are people who have chosen to petition the same god and are striving together to push each other to their highest possibility within the field. The score indicates one form of winning, but the deep truth is the success of the venture in bringing out the best in each.

I believe that more rituals acknowledging the deeper purpose would help us all enjoy the fruits of competition without the smugness of “We won!!” You lost!!” A ritual moment at the end of the game with the crowd applauding the “losers”. The high-fives at the end of kids’ basketball games is a good step in that direction.

And so, Kanasa City Royals fans, enjoy the sweetness of your team’s excellent performance. Because the next game we’re gonna beat your butts!!!!

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