Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Relax Mr. Competitive, is only a game

I'm the first to admit I am not a very competitive guy.
The desire to win no matter what is just not part of my DNA.
This was reflected when I played sports in my youth. I lacked that killer instinct most hyper-competitive athletes have.
I was decent at sports and was usually a middle-of-the-pack player, but I never really excelled, probably because I didn't really care if we won.
My lack of competitive nature used to drive my competitive dad crazy. I don't think he ever understood why I did not have that internal drive to crush my opponents under my heel and feast on their remains.
I played hockey for many years and I was always first or second line, but hardly a super star. I always worked hard to get better, to skate faster and shoot straighter, but that was just part of my nature to please my dad and coaches. It had nothing to do with an internal drive to be the best.
I came to accept my non-competitive ways when my hockey team won the play offs one year.
I can remember the final buzzer going, everyone pouring over the boards to swarm the goalie, all the while hooting and hollering about how great we were.
I looked at the scoreboard and, yes, we did win. I looked at the opposing team who were dejected, and at my team who was jubulant and all I could think was: Who cares?
Winning the 'big game' will not change my life in any way. The sun would come up the next day even if we had lost and the only real advantage I could see to winning the title was bragging rights, but I am not very fond of bragging to begin with, so it was no big deal.
A good buddy of mine is very competitive and cannot even play a videogame round of golf without taking things seriously.
You can see the concentration in his eyes, like he was shooting for a million dollars or something.
I just grab the controller, wack the ball and hope it goes in. If it doesn't, oh well, such is life.
I found some people's uncontrollable desire to win humorous at times and occasionally, it is downright ridiculous.
My family and I were at the Happiest Place in Earth a few years ago when I came across an individual who was visibly upset he was losing a kiddie game to me.
It was a 3-D ride where two people sit in a little buggy and shoot electronic hoops at a variety of targets.
My two boys were in one buggy, my wife and daughter in another so I ended up with Mr. Competitive as my buggy companion.
The game was broken down into four stages with your score displayed at the end of every stage.
At first, Mr. Competitive was friendly and chatty as we went through the ride firing our 'guns' at digital targets. At the end of the first stage, Mr. Competitive saw he was several points behind in what instantly became the most important competition of his life.
How could be face his children knowing I bested him at the gruelling electronic ring-shoot game?
He took on an aura of deep concentration as the next round began. I just kept shooting and looking around and making goofy comments to my wife and daughter in the cart ahead of me.
Mr. Competitive did not say a word and his furrowed brow showed his intense concentration. At the end of round two, he pulled ahead by several points.
I was enjoying watching him stress out over something so silly more than I was enjoying playing the game.
Just for fun, I kicked it up a notch for round three and when Mr. Comptitive saw we were tied, he became downright sullen as he was consumed with the desire to win.
The final round saw him victorious by a half-dozen points and he strutted away from the game like had just scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals.
I walked away feeling very amused and with a fun story to tell my family.
Looks like I won after all.

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