in winning, are we losing?

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

I’ve been thinking about this for days now. Ever since my nephew told me he thought that winning was the reason one plays baseball.

And I thought::: has our obsession with winning turned us into losers? Our family routines, our learning curves, and just plain old having fun all seem to take a beating from the prevailing ends justify the means American mindset.

Is winning market share or baseball games or presidential races more important than how one plays the game, the quality/efficacy of products one puts on the market, or the policies/integrity of candidates?

Winning is only an outcome, isn’t it? What happens to all the stuff that needs to happen to get to the winning? Isn’t all the in-between stuff, those small moments, where we get our life lessons?

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Take baseball… it’s not even like you need big hulking muscle-bound linemen. Guys hit the ball. They catch the ball. They run around bases. Why do they need to take steroids? Isn’t that cheating? To ramp yourself up through drugs when other guys are playing straight? Isn’t it supposed to be about one’s skill… the ability to play the game? Or is it simply one’s skill at winning… and doing whatever it takes, without regard for the game? Pete Rose, the greedy prick, went so far as to bet against the baseball team on which he both played and managed. Charlie Hustle??? How about Charlie Hustler.

I loved baseball for its mythic nuances… it’s constellation-like outfield, the heroic deeds of men, and the love of the game passed from parent to child… spanning generations. Little League, rites of passage, spring, renewal. A common thread in a modern world. But now? Now, baseball has been objectified by million dollar contracts, Nike endorsements, and merchandizing. And Little League? The play ground can turn into a battle ground of arguing parents and yelling coaches… the emphasis on winning stressing out the little kids who’d just like to play… a game.

Winning seems so pervasive that secondary schools have become a mere conduit to college. It’s winning at grades and winning at SAT-taking to beat out the other student to get into college. What happened to becoming educated and learning to think??? I’ll tell you what… instead we force-feed kids designed educational templates to win more scores on more and stupider tests… achievement tests. And college? All about the outcome::: winning the job.

And corporations? Winning market share and profits drive great commercial campaigns but the products themselves? Heh. Cheap goods are the most expensive goods we’ll ever buy. Toxic plastics made from toxic processes that use up untold energy are discarded after six months, taking up untold space while never decomposing… but leaching toxins into our soil and water sources… Yeah. Like the toxic chemicals we put on in our food, not to mention the way animals are enslaved and tortured to feed us. Have you noticed? SUVs are still being hawked by car companies… and the campaigns paint pictures of freedom and luxury. And, in order to stay current, you need to buy a computer every six months. It is depraved.

Oh. And politics… the thing that drove most of us here. Winning the election is far more important than governance. Politics means campaigning… who has time for policies and our overwhelming problems?  Certainly campaigning seems to focus on why I shouldn’t vote for the other guy/gal with a little bit about health care and economy. In real life, as Clinton and Obama attack each other, the only one sounding like he’s on-point and talking policy is John McCain. And McCain is delusional. An ass-kisser. A control freak. He’s more dangerous than Bushie… and yet, Clinton and Obama are so consumed with winning that they have lost control of what is important::: telling the fucking truth, our country, and its citizens. This is not about them. Not them for christ’s sakes.

Why isn’t it about their strategy to govern… and how they will do this job and the people who will surround them? Who’s on their SCOTUS short list? How do they think about diplomacy, evolution, choice… do they believe, as we, that our Constitution has been under assault and how would they restore it and balance of power. Do they believe that men and women elected to uphold our laws should be made accountable to those very same laws? How do they feel about unanswered Congressional subpoenas??? And maybe, just maybe, telling citizens the truth and standing for something, having principles, is more important than winning. Maybe telling the truth and demanding accountability… by impeaching George W. Bush and investigating all the corporations that have won through their association with him… will start the process of restoring our country. Maybe the truth is a long-term strategy to win back our country.

But hey… it’s more important to win. Yeah. Winners and winning have replaced leaders and leadership.

It seems to me by focusing on the outcome, winning, we are sacrificing the mainstay parts of our lives. The process of our lives. The everyday of our lives. Meaning, quality, pride, honesty, love… are attributes used in how one thinks about and does a thing. A kindness, playing the piano well, being a great cook, loving your kids… these things are not about winning, but just the ways we live our lives.

So, I said to my nephew,  I’m not sure winning is the object or goal of baseball. Sometimes in winning, we lose what’s really important… like having fun and learning to play with others. And then there’s the cool stuff like hitting, catching, and throwing a ball.

Maybe the most important thing about baseball is just playing the game.

112 comments

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    • pfiore8 on April 23, 2008 at 5:44 pm
      Author

    for finding ways to stay grounded in our everyday lives… and be a force for good in this world!

  1. it’s more like there is an unexplainable and undeniable fear of losing.

    …And it flows right into ideas like admitting that you are wrong or made a mistake, because that would admitting you made a mistake and that would mean you are failure.

    (No, it just means your human!)

  2. are just different sides of the same coin, as are love and hate.  Perhaps we need to be examining the coins we use instead of trying to make them always land heads up.  

  3. the human understanding of the retributive character of the world…….

    from the time we share the playground till death we come to know the punishing character of many human beings….

    the growth of fear has had a concommitant growth in the urge to punish……

    perhaps that is why winning has come to consume our civilization……

    • OPOL on April 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Some would say a strength but they’re not considering the mess we’ve made of the earth in our frenzy to compete.  We’d have done well to adopt the cooperative ethic of the East…but they are adopting our cut-throat competitive ethic instead.  We’ll all be the poorer for it.

    Remember kiddies, don’t compete – cooperate.  🙂

  4. Cheap goods are the most expensive goods we’ll ever buy.

    • brobin on April 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    that the point of a journey is not to arrive.  Our destination is but an end point on the journey, and all the sights, sounds, smells, adventures and learning experiences that we find along they way is truly what is important.

    So, then next time someone askes from the back seat, “Are we there yet?”, your answer might be something along the lines of “Yes.  We are right where we are supposed to be at this very moment.”

    • Robyn on April 23, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    We can’t win.

    We can’t break even.

    We can’t even get out of the game.

    We should be trying to make the game as fun as possible until we lose.

  5. We grow toward the light as long as we can.

  6. you know my kids were/are heavily involved in sports…i think thing 1 ran track and cross country, swam, played lacrosse and basketball…thing 2 does track, cross country, and basketball…and we play for fun and fitness and dont care who wins or loses…

    but i have to tell you, by these past 2 years, thing 2’s last years of middle school cross country (she doesnt plan to make the leap to high school), her entire peer group had grown well past her in speed/strength, and she lost every single race.  not just ‘didnt win’, but came in drop-dead last in a field of about 60 girls per race…

    ..and she said to me one day..”mom, a lot of people tell me that they would just quit…but if i do, then someone else will have to come in last…and she might get upset about it”.  talk about a born liberal…she literally showed up every week KNOWING she would lose to spare the feelings of another person.  so, its not always about winning, i promise…

    another thing 2 anecdote:

    in her 7th grade year, there was a boy who ran for another school who had a severe congenital muskuloskeletal disorder who ran to keep limber and who always lost every race he was in as well.  (boys and girls run in separate races, so he and thing 2 never ran against each other).  one week thing 2 was just coming off of the flu but needed to run in order to qualify for some end-of-year something or other, so she slogged the 2.2 miles in her worst time ever…and the developmentally disabled kid beat her time!!  what does thing 2 do?  she marches right up to him and says “hey, k, you beat my time today!”.  his face lit up like, whoa!…like, nuclear!!  i think she was the only person he had ever beaten at anything physical…(and, of course, she didnt tell him it was because she had been sick…)

  7. marksman as Gus McCrae.

    markswoman . . .

    marksperson . . .

    Let me put it this way:  your nephew’s aunt hits what she aims at.  

  8. these wise words from MLK:

    In the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

  9. If you are not winning, you are losing.   Natural selection is a prime example that supports my premise.  

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    • kj on April 24, 2008 at 3:59 am

    don’t matter at all to me anymore.  Am scarred and healed and scarred and healed and all that matters is the work… and the work is play… so it all pans out in my universe!  😉

  10. In the corporate world, we see the negative influence of “winning” in terms of landing the client vs. serving the client.  Phone companies do all kinds of crazy things to get your business (free phones, etc).  But what happens when you sign the contract?  You become a citizen of fucktopolis.

    Government contractors behave this way too, at least the larger ones.  They put their top people on writing the proposal and talking to the government folks.  But when the proposal is accepted and the contract signed, some poor low level schmoe is handed the work.  Lawyers do this: partner recruits the business, associate does the work.

    get elected.  Woo hoo! Then what?  Whoever wins this thing is gonna wish, within a year, that (s)he lost.

  11. In the corporate world, we see the negative influence of “winning” in terms of landing the client vs. serving the client.  Phone companies do all kinds of crazy things to get your business (free phones, etc).  But what happens when you sign the contract?  You become a citizen of fucktopolis.

    Government contractors behave this way too, at least the larger ones.  They put their top people on writing the proposal and talking to the government folks.  But when the proposal is accepted and the contract signed, some poor low level schmoe is handed the work.  Lawyers do this: partner recruits the business, associate does the work.

    get elected.  Woo hoo! Then what?  Whoever wins this thing is gonna wish, within a year, that (s)he lost.

    • Diane G on April 24, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    With a son in 3rd grade, it resonates. As an adult in life it resonates. Priorities are fucked up.

    Who hasn’t learned more from losing well than winning?

    Perhaps we are pushed to forget how to even lose WELL.

    pfiore, you are awesome.

    (and hey wheres my cross-post?)

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