"Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others." - Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter
The city of Chicago is in mourning, a direct result of The Chicago Blackhawks valiant struggled to win The Stanley Cup for two years in a row was dashed. From the people I've witnessed discussing the event, I have drawn two major categories that they very neatly fall into:
1. The Optimistic Shruggers
-This sect of people are obviously saddened over this event but understand that a team can't win big every year, especially considering the wonderful streak we've had the past six years.
2. The "Woe is Me" Mourners
-This sect of people is torn to shreds by the loss, rending their shirts in penance and depressed at the thought that the season, so thrilling and exciting, is over.
Both groups of people encompass viable worldviews, but one is fueled by rationality and the other irrationality.
Analyzing this phenomenon, I remembered the quote that I started this article with. The philosophical nature of competition is something that has always intrigued me from a very early age. As a child, and as an adult, I have never been a very interested sportsman. I far preferred the thrill of playing the piano and singing to the physical aches and pains of pee-wee baseball. Thus, the art of competition has been on my mind on the level of an observer.
Competition is something that is natural and innate in animals, a fitting example being the theory of The Survival of The Fittest. We seemingly crave the adrenaline of battle and smiting our enemies on the battlefield of the mind and the stadium.
But the basic theory of competition is something that isn't widely understood. As evidenced by the quote above, a man doesn't compete to beat his opponent, he competes to achieve for his own sake. A team, also, is a group of individuals working to this end. To compete is not to savour the taste of the flesh of the victim, but to fulfill a rational need within ourselves.
In the same vein, losing a competition is not a reflection on the inability of the loser. If a person is competing in something that they are skilled at and are trained in, being bested is a learning opportunity. When you lose a true competition and not a game of chance you should value the abilities of your opponent and learn from their victory, not resent it.
Therefore, The Blackhawks not winning is not a crushing blow nor an error on their part. They fought valiantly, but the tenacity and drive of their opponents were greater in the moments they were playing. Both teams held the same drive with differing standards and St. Louis was more driven to win and had the ability to back it up. I'm sure Coach Quenneville will analyze and focus on what led to the loss and, as stated previously, learn from the mistakes they made while still admiring the team that bested them.
Just like the Olympians of old, we need to see competition as a personal ideal, working to better ourselves as we fit into the group of individuals we inhabit when we compete in team sports. The main point of this idea is one of respect. Competition isn't a petty sport of toddlers pouting when they lost. It's a chance to match wits and muscle with another group who shares the same passion as you do and that must be respected.
I shall end with a phrase that has become a mantra of the teams that always seem to get the short shrift (* cough* The Cubs *cough cough*: THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR.
(Featured Photo courtesy of @WeatherTech on Twitter!)