Friday, May 18, 2007

Obsession to Win

I'm not much of a sport fan. Okay. "Not much" really means not at all. But I haven't been able to help but follow some of the Tour de France doping scandal with Floyd Landis. The whole situation is just one sadness upon another. And in the end, I can't help but realize that it all comes down to an obsession to win.

I don't know if Landis is guilty or not. Probably only Landis knows that with any certainty. But if Landis is telling the truth, and there was no doping involved, you have to feel sorry for the amount of turmoil he has gone through to defend his name and championship.

If Landis is lying, it is amazing to see what lengths someone will go to in order to avoid ruining their reputation, even if that ruined reputation is the result of their own misbehavior.

If Landis is lying, though, I can't judge him. Neither can you. Because every one of us is guilty of something. In the words of Gregory House, from TV's House, M.D., "everyone lies." Perhaps that's true. But what is even more true is the fact that not a single one of us goes through life without making mistakes, without messing up, without committing sins against ourselves and those around us.

If Landis is lying, what right do I have to condemn him? For that matter, what right do I have to condemn anyone who has made mistakes and tried to cover them up?

Anyhow, there is an obsession to win. To be on top at all costs. And despite the platitude that winning isn't everything, when it comes down to professional sports...winning is everything. Athletes risk their careers to dope just so that they have a chance to make it to the top. Athletes who are on top are found having to defend that position for their rest of their lives. Lance Armstrong still faces allegations of doping, for example.

What it seems is the issue isn't so much about the doping itself, but the need to dope to begin with. Something has instilled this obsession to win to the point that doping seems a necessary evil, yet at the same time, kept under the covers.

Then I look, again, to myself. What do I have under the covers in my life? What is it that makes me feel the need to be on top of my game? Or, rather (and more importantly), to give the appearance I'm on top of my game? What makes it seem impossible for me to be honest and up front and say, "Wow, I messed up big time," or, "You know what? I'm not nearly as good as I thought I was." This is honesty--something far more admirable than winning in a person. Only, honesty doesn't win you medals, or higher pay, or fame and fortune. At least, not directly. But at the end of the day, do I want to look like a winner, and then spend the rest of my life defending that title? Or do I want to live a life of honesty, where the need to defend myself is moot?

There is only one standard of perfection. I'm not it.

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