"Let me clarify that I'm not writing against friendly competition but against the competitive spirit that always has to win or be the best. Actually, I believe that healthy competition is good,especially for children and high schoolers, as it can provide an arena in which they can seek to do their best. And this kind of competition is not limited to sport. There is competition at science fairs or among bands or at spelling bees. But in whatever competition, the question the child or teenager and their parents should ask is not "Did we win?" but "Did we do our best?"
You can see now that there is a close relationship between envy, jealousy and competitiveness. We tend to envy a peer who is ahead of us in an area we value highly. We become jealous of a person who is over taking us. And both of these foster a competitive spirit that says, "I must always win or be number one." All of these attitudes are the result of ungodly selfishness, of thinking only of ourselves." RESPECTABLE SINS: Jerry Bridges page 154 - 155.
A person may think this last sentence is extreme or far fetched, but if you are aware of the Lance Armstrong story, you probably found this sentence to be totally on target. This quote describes the process that Armstrong must have gone through, to be now named as "the biggest liar in world sport" by Simon Plumb, Sunday Star Times, or "this man, who must win at all costs .... He's a bully, a liar, a cheat, a man who is prepared to ruin lives, including his own perhaps, as long as he ends up on top." by Michael Donaldson, Deputy Editor, Sunday Star Times, January 20, 2013.
The Sunday Star Times account of "The Damage Done" by Armstrong's style of competitiveness, financially, comes to over 20 million dollars which he now has to repay. Irreparable damage has been done to friendships, with close friends having been "targeted by (Armstrong with) savage, and expensive, personal attacks." This includes Mike Anderson who was his mechanic and personal assistant and friend of nearly 20 years.
Lastly there's the damage to the sport of cycling itself. It's reputation is tarnished for now, with talk of it being dropped from the Olympics.
The disturbing thing however is that Armstrong believes that a public confession is sufficient, after which one can return to business somewhat as before, as he is now training for World Ironman events, hoping that his lifetime ban from cycling can be reduced.
I think the Lance Armstrong story is extremely sad, but it serves as a warning and evidence of the corruption that can come from the wrong mindset to competition.
Most areas of sport are full of this style of self-centred competition from amateur to professional levels. As a family, we have and continue to experience it.
And right now, as I type, I have heard on our TV news that this afternoon in Australia it has been announced that Australian sport across many sporting codes, have been involved in a huge doping scandal. Players, coaches and doctors have be said to be involved along with money from the criminal underworld paying for games to be rigged. It's being named Australian sport's blackest day. Of course, we need to ask is this going on also in our own 'backyard'?
Such disaster - all from a "competitive spirit that always has to win or be the best."
Getting away from the doping issue and back to competitiveness - does this all relate to US? It certainly does! What are we saying and living out for our children to see and pick up, in the area of competitiveness?
As well as sports people taking drugs so they have that advantage, there are other dark and subtle shades to unhealthy competitiveness also. One such shadow is greed for gain, the desire to get or keep something for oneself - these words are in the dictionary's definition for the word "avarice". Or another one, which seems to be ignored today, even though it rages everywhere, is the problem of self-conceit, having an excessively high opinion of oneself. This may be accompanied with a craving for admiration. The dictionary calls this "Pride" and "Vanity".
When we speak about this type of thing in conversation, we tend to give it the soft title of "arrogance", and only direct it at someone else. We fail to see any of it in ourselves. As a parent, I suffer with these problem attitudes. We need the Lance Armstrong story to shake us up.
As Charlotte Mason says, the evilness is not in the sport, activity or competition itself, rather it is in the competitive attitude, the "ugly qualities of human nature" which we as parents have a choice to pickup and practice or step aside from and discourage. She says "...the time has come for the thoughtful parent to examine them self and see whether or no it be their duty to make a stand against competitiveness." Parents and Children: Charlotte Mason.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Why don't you talk with your kids about this man, Lance Armstrong, and then work out how your family can approach the competition you're involved in, to make it 'friendly competition' of 'healthy competition'.