In Sports and Other Arenas, Is It All About the Money and Winning?
By Dennis Loo (2/27/14)
Those who set the overall standards in our society celebrate the alleged virtues of money and winning. It's all about the money and winning is everything, they say.
But is this really true? Is it all about the money? Are those who come in second, the first "losers"?
While some individuals are certainly driven by their cravings for money, the really outstanding contributors in history weren’t motivated by the money – many of them did what they did before money was even available - but by the challenge of what they were doing. Michael Jordan, for example, is famously competitive and hates to lose at any game he’s playing whether it’s basketball, golf, cards, or what have you. While he certainly enjoys his money, his excellence didn’t derive from his thirst for the Benjamins. If it did then there would be a lot of Michael Jordans because there are many people who crave riches.
Steven Wozniack who created the first working Macs wanted to give the idea away to the world. In creating the first Apple computer he wasn't driven by the desire for money. His co-founder Steve Jobs convinced him that instead of giving the idea away to the world for free they should start a company.
Despite the conventional view that Jobs was a great inventor, what Jobs was was a brilliant marketer who understood that function and design should go together. The key ideas behind the Apple Computer were actually invented by the Palo Alto Research Group (PARC), brilliant inventive minds hired by Xerox to plot out the paperless future. When they came up with the first working PC and showed it to Xerox, Xerox executives were unmoved. Jobs heard about what PARC had done and asked to be shown it. When he was, he instantly recognized the importance of GUI (graphical user interface, the basis for the mouse), which Xerox failed to see.
When we were discussing in one of my classes yesterday why a student in the class loves sports she initially said that she watches sports to see who’s going to win, that it’s the winning that matters. But then she admitted that if the baseball score is 11 to 1 that it’s not interesting compared to when the game goes into extra innings and someone hits the go ahead run in overtime. So what she’s actually interested in isn’t the winning itself but the competition and the drama.
Why do we like stories and why do we like to watch those who excel at whatever they do? Is it because we want to see someone win for the sake of winning? If that were true then we’d not need to watch the game as long as we could see the final score and see that the team that we like has the winning score.
I know from personal experience as a player and as a coach that winning is way better than losing. It doesn’t matter what the stakes are, whether it’s the world championships or the YMCA youth basketball league. Winning feels wonderful and losing feels, at least some of the time, terrible.
But it’s not the winning itself that is the major appeal; it’s the process that leads to the outcome. Ask a top athlete – or even a weekend warrior – if they would be happy to be given the championship trophy through their opponent defaulting before the final. Almost all would say that they would much rather win it through having to take on and beat a formidable competitor. While it would be foolhardy to generalize about everyone’s reasons for enjoying sports or other arenas, it would be hard to refute the fact that for most people, it’s the game that’s the thing, not the winning in and of itself. Certainly there are those who will play only those who are inferior to them in ability so that they can win a lot. But they don’t make movies about such people and if they did, people wouldn’t watch those movies unless it was to make fun of such cheap "winners."
What the desire to win produces – or as is perhaps even more often the case, the hating to lose – is the doing of what you didn’t think you could do, the stretching to excel in the face of fear and difficulty against a determined and powerful adversary, which sometimes can be your own fears, and succeeding. That is what is so terrific about sports and other endeavors and what makes it such gripping drama to watch. Watching the last few holes at a tightly matched golf tournament, for example, isn’t mainly about the physical skills involved in golf. What makes a tight match of any kind so dramatic is the mental demands placed on the individual and what s/he does to conquer those demands. When it’s all on the line and people either choke under the pressure or rise to the occasion is what links these activities together.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)