I have never been heavily involved with competitive sports, I think largely because I do not like the way people act over the results of a win-lose scenario. I played one season if Little League Baseball. I did not enjoy it. I tried for a second season, but the bashing and yelling of the coach during preseason training lead me to drop out. Beating the other guys was not that important to me.
Most of the things I have done in my life have been solo style activities. If there is competition, it is me against myself. Bicycle riding, skydiving, and martial arts, all of these things do have a competitive component. But they can also be enjoyed without getting near competition. I rode a bike to ride, not to race. Skydiving does have some contests, but I never even watched one, much less enrolled in one.
Martial arts, which has been a dominate activity in my life, has its competitive side. In my first years of training I never attended a tournament. My instructor did not have us attend them, and did not even put together a competition team. We trained for training’s sake, not to get trophies.
The school where I teach has two grappling tournaments a year. I am always involved, usually as the major score keeper. I really do not enjoy the process. Without fail someone loses, and someone complains about losing. Parents of the little competitors yell at the refs and yell at the judges, and run up to me with cell phone pictures of why their little child should never have lost. They give no regard to the fact that their child might not be perfect, or might have been up against a superior opponent, or might have just had a bad day.
When I am required to referee a match, without fail some coach from the sidelines will yell at me about what he thinks should be called or not called. Competitors yell at me because they did not like the way the calls went. The job of the referee is to keep the players safe, while allowing techniques to be displayed and determine a victor. But safety becomes meaningless to the loser. Clean or fair or legal techniques have no meaning. They always walk away feeling they should have won, even when they clearly did not.
Our big Mixed Martial Arts event, Caged Chaos number 6, took place this past Saturday night. Once again, seemingly on cue, a losing team is protesting one of the fights. They claim that the referee touched the competitors at a time when it appeared one of them might be getting ready to tap-out. Enter the video tape. The competitor was not tapping out. He was punching. The referee did not touch the competitors, indicating a stoppage, he was crawling on all fours. His hands were on the floor. He could not have touched them. The loser’s team is grasping at straws, trying to trump up a complaint to turn a clear and obvious loss of the match into some sort of make-believe win.
Competition turns wonderful mothers and dads into bitchy complainers. Competition turns teams into sneaky tricksters. They say it builds sportsmanship, but I’ve never seen that. I so rarely see the gracious loser that pays homage to the winner, or the gracious winner that thanks the loser for a good fight. I see winners that jump and scream and shout about how awesome they are, and losers who grumble about how it was all rigged against them.
I am not a fan of competition. It always brings out the worst in human beings.