Dennis Janson: Bringing home gold is nice, but isn't competing the point?

Better to try and fail, then never have tried

Some random thoughts on the Winter Olympic games. I’m always amazed at how poised America’s and other countries athletes are when they are put under the hot white lights of this arduous competition. And never more so than after they come up short of a win in their chosen pursuit.

I remember Bonny Warner, a luge competitor from 1980 through 1990. She took sharp exception to any mention that she was a loser because she finished well off the podium in 1988.

“Realizing the competition and personal limitations, my goal was sixth place and I’m thrilled with my performance,” she said at the time.

Good for her.

Without people like Warner, who went on to become a commercial airline pilot for United Airlines and then JetBlue, the Olympic ideal of competing and giving one's best could be lost on the-victory-at-all-costs philosophy that so many embrace. 

The media of course is most guilty of raising expectations, then jumping off the bandwagon when the tires go flat. We have to keep especially the Winter Games in perspective.

The kids who clean our clocks in many events lived next door to ski slopes. Or frozen fjords. Their parents, uncles and aunts were legendary lugers in their remote villages. They cross country skied to school.

Not that we shouldn’t try to be the best and strive for the top. But heaven forbid we scare off kids with the talent and the nerve from even trying because they might not harvest gold in a fashion that suits network executives. Given the choice, I’d often prefer a world class person who holds true to Teddy Roosevelt’s time honored admonition:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” 

Give it your best gang. That’s all we should ask for.

And, that's my 2 cents.

 

Denny Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on WCPO.com. His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m. 

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