The world as we know it is driven by competition. It exists in the classroom, in the market place, on the athletic field and, in it’s most serious form on the battlefield.
Darwin postulated that competition allowed the fittest or best adapted to succeed and even survive; the whole premise of evolutionary change. Such competition, on a macro or population scale is largely out of individual control. Competition on a micro scale, between 2 or more athletes in any given sport or activity is, to a great extent individually driven. What is it that drives some athletes to sacrifice 4 or more years, training to compete in the Olympics while others, less motivated may have trouble extracting themselves from the couch and TV? The answer of course is complex and multifactorial, but certainly, genetics play an important role. Some individuals may have greater expression of the gene or genes that code for drive and competitiveness. Olympic champions have not only the motivation to win but the genetic gifts allowing them to excel at their given activity.
I am not an Olympian, but rather, a senior citizen who loves to ride bikes. I enjoy the process of getting fitter, faster and, hopefully, not fatter. Competition with myself is what drives me to train on a daily basis and the truth is I would rather train than race. I would not be truthful however if I did’t admit to visualizing victory at the Master’s World Track Cycling Championship or standing on the top step of the podium while the Star Spangled Banner played to the crowd. Ultimately, for me, competing is about exploring my own potential; pushing the envelope of my ability and endurance to an absolute maximum.
There are probably as many different reasons why people compete as there are individuals competing. Regardless of why, compete we must at whatever level our makeup demands and allows for.
Larry Wolff, MD