The philosophy of contests

  • Episode 20
  • 29-11-2022
  • 10 Min Read
The philosophy of contests

Spanish athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre, on December 2012. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medallist in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race mistakenly pulling up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.

Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and allowed him to cross first.

“I didn’t deserve to win it,” said 24-year-old Fernández Anaya.

Sportsmanship and winning are much debated these days. It has grown to an idea of cut-throat competition. I think the quote from Jean Jacques Rousseau might be what prompts many. He said, “Truth does not bring you success.” For Iván Fernández Anaya, it is clear that he lost the title. There is a famous quote from the Indian freedom fighter Chandrasekhar Azad. He said that instead of living worrying about how others improve, it is better to keep breaking your own records every day. According to him, success is always a fight between you and yourself. These days, I think children should necessarily be taught this philosophy of success.

I have heard the story of a man who spent a month in his old parental farm house. It was there he was born and spent his boyhood days. There was a well in the front yard of the house, which had never gone dry. Later, this man built a new house a little away from the old. There he dug another well too. The old well was kept, safely covered with a cap. A few years passed by and this man thought of verifying the status of the old well. He remembered the cool water he used to drink from the well, every time he was there.

When he removed the top, he was surprised. Even though the season was partly rainy, the well was almost dry. The ever fresh underground water channels had gone closed. This story of the dry well was told by John Sandford. As water ceased being drawn, the small currents ceased to flow and slowly were obstructed by mud and it further ended up in drying the well. Unless we let empathy and consideration flow lavishly, all those small channels of love get blocked and personalities become dried out. One of the best lessons we are to give our children is the role of accepting others too and reverting competitions from cut-throat to creative. And let growth be an improvement of one’s own records.

A young gentleman stepped into a public telephone booth. He dialled a particular number and opened a conversation.

“Auntie, I design house compounds and also mow lawns.”

“If you give me the work, I will do it at half the rate and do better than anybody else….”

Again, and again the booth operator heard him saying ‘please’, ‘please’, ‘please…’

But when he hooked the receiver back, his face seemed to be glowing. The booth operator understood that he did not get the work, anyway. But he very much liked his attitude. He told him that he likes his attitude and is only happy to give him a work.

The young man replied that he is the guy already working for the lady there. He told him that he called the lady and asked for a job only to know her opinion about his work.

It is said that the only thing on earth with unlimited possibilities is ‘growth’!

Select your favourite platform