Thursday, September 11, 2008

Winning isn't everything

It’s high time that I accept that the events that unfolded after 8th August 2008 changed my whole perspective of what I thought about winning. If you have still not guessed what happened on that day, let me tell you .It was the day when China opened the Beijing Olympics with a stunning spectacle leaving everyone in the world spellbound. It is surely unlikely that any other host country will ever be able to devote such investment and resources to an opening ceremony. Such a flawless exhibition of synchronization, choreography, discipline and imagination was rarely to be seen in the recent years. And yes I am still in awe for the magnitude of the event. Never in my life had I seen a show where such a large number of people perform with such harmony. I would like to give full credits to the people who came up with such a show. It surely set a benchmark for any kind of event to be hosted from now on. As the saying goes, “First impression is the best impression”, the opening event itself showcased what was in store for the rest of the event. I never cared to watch Olympics all these years but when the start was so splendid, I was left wanting for more....

My next few days became too mechanical. After returning from office ,I would sit in front of the TV to watch Olympics (bearing the torture of the dismal coverage by doordarshan).Over the next few days I saw many mistakes being made, many hopes shattered and most importantly many world records being broken. And it is this part of the world records that made me write this article.

Yes I am talking about these 2 persons who made me rethink the definition of winning: Michael Philips and Usian Bolt. Winning gold is good and breaking world records is better. But the way in which it was done was what we call “Great”. Winning 8 medals out of 8 in swimming is utter domination. And it was a long time that this type of domination was achieved in swimming. And the way in which bolt completed his last 10 meters of his 100m sprint with his fist thumping his chest and celebrating even before winning and still breaking the world record was a spectacle to behold. It showed us that it was not only winning that was important but doing it comprehensively was the new in thing.

I wondered now that whether it could be seen in other sports as well and I could recollect a few who made us feel that there was no thrill in watching the sport if you knew who was the winner beforehand. To name a few, here is the list: Michael Schumacher in F1,Tiger Woods in golf, Federer in Tennis (Nadal is not as consistent),Australia in cricket etc.
These were the people who seemed to be bored of winning. There always seemed to be an aura of invincibility around them. I sometime wondered what would motivate them to practise when they knew they were the undisputed leaders in their game.

Somehow I feel this phenomenon is also come to academics too. Toppers now not only try to get better marks than the others but try to see that the gap between them and the next best is very large.

The competition is not becoming tougher, its made tougher by the winners ,who instead of competing with others ,try to beat themselves thus increasing the gap with which they defeat someone.

I had read this interesting one liner somewhere :"Just when I had found the key of life, someone changed the lock".
Now I feel it’s very true.

To conclude, this is what I have to say: Winning isn’t everything…..being invincible is :)


  1. very true, but buddy there can be few examples given here that satisfy and indian soul. look at the way indian team performed under T20. They were almost invincible. Even mighty australians were not matching smwhere. And the games u mentioned over are all individual game, If one is genius (Federed, Tiger woods) its one thing, but to play as a team and that also consistently is extra ordinary. I don't say indian boxers were best there. but its not like they cann't be game greatest. There are many mud holes that keep them pulling back. These dayz boxing championship is going in Ludhiana, but there even they do not have arrangement for electricity generator.
    Honestly, I do agree with your views, but there are few other things that comes in picture and has to be taken care of.

  2. @Amit,
    I am not ignoring the fact that Indians too won medals there.But thats not the point here.
    The point is China won more medals than USA or jamaica
    but its Phelps and Bolt who became famous.
    coz they won so convincingly that It looked like there was no competition from anyone else.

    Dhoni,T20 : For me it still does not make it to "The invincibles team"

  3. To be true
    I am not frankly completly convinced to what is said. Coming to the Praveen Point, yes true...the attitude and to be the BEST is changing and in short the defination of TOPPER is changing. So its a new methodology which is running successfully these days. Creating a bigger GAP :-). But this at the same time gives the bad side of the picture as to why the Number TWO has given the so much of chance to Number ONE to increase the GAP between the two. So you see this fact is hard to DIGEST. As from one point you see greatness building and from the other side the lazyness. So my point is I don't think that the defination is changing its just that there are few Person whoes self determination is more that what a normal person have. These peoples are able to push themselfes towards their own goal at harder times and so they are categorised as great. But this portion remains the FEW :-)

    Also coming to AMIT Point....I will only say ...INDIA in T20 T20 was not at all invincible.

    Take care friends

  4. @Gagan,
    I was so absorbed in noticing the toppers that I failed to recongnize the runner up. (May be its again because of that X-factor in the winner that made me blind towards others),
    Yes now I do wonder if such domination will motivate others to do better
    It will dent the confidence of others ????

    Note: The person who came last in 100m sprint said that after seeing Bolt winning by such a margin ,he felt like a kid and was ashamed of participating in that race itself

  5. Two things I can make out of this reading
    1. Winning
    2. Utter dominance.

    Winning, by nature is encouragement for others to win.

    Utter Dominance, by nature is breaking others dominance and establishing your monopoly.

    Because of this utter dominance it will take the like light form other players which they deserved.

    Secondly it will make the game boring unless there is a equally strong opponent.

    I want to conclude that utter dominance is not healthy unless a equally strong opponent is there in the field which in turn, turns the utter dominance to winning.

    So I like only winning not the utter dominance

  6. @santhosh, i m a bit confused over statement "I want to conclude that utter dominance is not healthy unless a equally strong opponent is there in the field which in turn, turns the utter dominance to winning."

    I think this itself is contradictory, If equally strong opponent is there, then utter dominance will be almost impossible. I think strong opponent and utter dominance is inversely proportional

    Utter dominance = K. 1/Strong opponnet :)

  7. I personally enjoyed the one-liner that served as an epitaph. How true it is. Yep! the way we are defining and redefining winning makes us think the strength of the underlying motivation! Especially when you already are an undisputed winner in the arena! Food for thought!!