“Foosball is of the Devil.”
// Bobby Boucher’s Momma //
In the year I happened to be born, a classic football movie called The Waterboy was also born. This movie showcases an iconic character that is torn between his love for his mother and for football. Momma Boucher tries to keep Bobby under her own control by telling him that everything–except for her–is the Devil.
Today, when looking at the American culture, I can see a lot of good and bad things. I am looking from the perspective that sports have built a competitive culture in America. It is not solely football’s doing, but a tag team of sports that have created this competitive culture. I don’t want this to be seen that I hate sports and competition. All my life, I have been a part of a team and played sports. I am forever grateful the lessons they taught me, but we need to be aware of the impact that competition has on our everyday life.
All that being said–when looking at the impact competition has on a culture, it seems to do more than we initially think. Let’s walk through some things that a competitive culture impacts.
A COMPETITIVE CULTURE IMPACTS RELATIONSHIPS.
When the lens we see the world through is competition, then we separate each other into teams or tribes. People are either on my team or not on my team. We are so focused on helping our own team that we forget to love the others.
Love is not competitive. It does not keep a track record. It is not hierarchical. It’s only goal is to make others feel valued, because they are. How do you know if competition has impacted the way you love? If you have ever let awkwardness steer you away from a relationship, then competition has impacted the love you could’ve given to that person. Have you ever found yourself in line for coffee and you check facebook for no reason? Why do we do that? Because it is our defense to awkward situations. We would rather give our attention to people a hundred miles away before facing the people right in front of us. We think that we will never see this person again in my life so why invest in them. This is because our view of ourselves has become wrapped within a competitive spirit. We want to get to our destination with no hassles or hangups. Everything must be done to the best of my ability. So, if I talk to someone I will only see once, then I have wasted time, and that is not using my time to the best of my ability. Competitive culture impacts relationships.
A COMPETITIVE CULTURE FAILS TO TEACH FAILURE.
When the best basketball player on the team is on the free throw line with 3 seconds left, they are tied and only need one point to win the game, then out of nowhere, he misses and the team that was supposed to win ends up losing. The player choked and lost the game for the whole team. Although it is completely healthy to lose sometimes. We must learn how to lose well. We do not naturally know how to lose well. Often, a lose hangs around to the point where we just punch something for the sake of doing something.
Too often we teach “Failure is not an option.” When the opposite is true. The best way to learn is to let failure be your teacher. Yoda says it best in Star Wars: The Last Jedi when he says, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Yes, we must teach hard work, discipline, and practice, but failure should be on our course list. Do not fear failure, but let it push you to your better self.
A COMPETITIVE CULTURE IMPACTS NATURAL TRUST.
There are times in our lives when we walk down the street and see someone who may be homeless or came from a different part of town. What is our response to people like that? Head down and walk fast. Why? When separated into tribes, trust becomes something limited for those of the same tribe. People who look, act, and/or seem different are automatically pushed into an untrustable category.
What if we trusted people first and then made them have to gain our distrust? How would that change our viewpoint of the world? If we can do this, then we can begin to tear down the walls that separate tribes. Trust should be our initial response to people, not distrust.
A COMPETITIVE CULTURE CREATES A COMPARISON CULTURE.
Every second of every day is spent worrying about being better than the person to your right and to your left. There is a healthy kind of comparison, but when competition is involved it usually leads to obsession. What happens when people are transfixed upon comparison is that we lose the value of humanity. Each and every person deserves love, respect, and community. When we are more worried about being better than them, then we can’t be giving them what they need.
Comparison cripples potential by taking out individuality. You are best at being you, and you CAN make an impact in this world by being you. Do not get lost in the trap of comparison, but find freedom in being pushed to better yourself in order to be the best version of you.
A COMPETITIVE CULTURE PRODUCES A LOSS IN PASSION.
Today, what does the culture do to people who don’t want to compete? We push them aside saying that they are lazy and unproductive people. People who don’t like football, soccer, baseball, or basketball are seen as anomalies. I believe that to pursue sports in the American culture isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it takes absolutely no courage to do. You can stand on a field and be praised all your life. It takes courage to follow your passion in spite of being told to fall in line with the rest of society. It takes courage to go against this competitive culture.
The American culture has taken Ricky Bobby’s phrase “If you are not first, you’re last.” as if it is the word of God. You have to be the best at sports if you play sports. You have to be the best at math. You have to be the best at science. You have to be the best at photography. You have to be the best at writing. You have to be the best at cooking. Whatever we do, we have to be the best at it or we should find something else.
This competition exercise is creating a loss of passion in this generation. When children say that they want to be a writer, a painter, or a world traveler, people think that these are cute hobbies, but they need a REAL job. Instead of building a competitive culture, let’s fight to build a creative culture. One that lets people pursue their passion because if they are really passionate, they will find a way to do it and do it well.
In art, in church, and in school we have allowed competition to creep in where only passion should be. We have let culture steer the course and everyone else merely follows. Churches hold preaching competitions. Schools hold up ACT scores. Artists hold competitions with a prize for the best artist. I’m not saying that these are bad or that they should be stopped, but what if we admired the passion stirring within people and gave time for their passion to meet their craft.
Someone did this for me, and now I am chasing the dream of being a speaker and writer. I haven’t told many people this because it is not something I am proud of. During my sophomore year of High School, I was able to take the ACT for free. When I got my scores, I was humbled by the results.
I got an 18 overall. I looked at my individual scores and found something odd. My math and science were both 21 and my reading was 20. So why did I have an 18 overall? Well, my English score explained it. It was an 11.
I just looked up what an 11 ACT score is when converted to a percentage, and it is an F ( 27%). Although, that is bad. I had an English teacher named Mr. Edwards who poured into me the next year, and when I took the ACT my junior year, I doubled my score to a 22 which is an A (91%). Mr. Edwards didn’t see the score I had, but looked to the score I could have with a little help. He didn’t compare me to others or place me in the academic competition. He treated me like a human being and fed the God-given passion inside of me.
I think it’s ironic that Ricky Bobby says, “If you are not first, you’re last.” and Jesus says “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16). Jesus has come to bring an upside down kingdom one that proclaims that it is not a competition to get to the throne room of Christ, but all are welcome. Jesus has killed competition by defeating sin once and for all. We are no longer in tribes but under the perfect reign of God. The grace of Jesus allows us to love and trust freely with no restrictions. He allows us to be ourselves and to experience love for who we are, not who others want us to be. Jesus set us free to pursue the passion He has placed within our hearts to be apart of the church He created.
Remember that Christmas isn’t a time of receiving the best gift, but giving to others what you have already received in plenty. Do not let Christmas become a competition, but a Christ-filled Christmas remembering that He gave it all for us.
Merry Christmas from Upward Glory.
THE PITFALLS OF A COMPETITIVE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE – Tiny Pulse
For Your Name is my name and my name for Your Glory,
Forever and Ever, Amen.