Competition always inspires

By Clyde Davis: CNJ Columnist

It has become a pattern in our house, though I am the only one who is interested in keeping the pattern going. The alarm goes off, the coffeepot goes on, and the Tour de France, channel 47 live coverage, emerges on the television set.

Though I do not build my day around it, the same long distance bicycle race finds its way into my life at the end of the day, actually more around supper time, coverage which, by the way, is a repeat of that morning’s.

The same pattern occurs during March madness. For those who do not understand, that is NCAA basketball playoff time. Spurts and starts and fits of watching college basketball, sandwiched in between the rest of life.

I do not place myself anywhere near the category of person who is glued to the TV during college football season, professional basketball season, or, heaven help us, NASCAR season. But I do understand the obsession.

What is our fixation with winning and losing at competitive sports? More to the point, is it really with winning or losing, or is it about watching the effort? For me, the effort is paramount, but I know plenty of folks for whom the world turns on who wins, who loses, and who drops out unable to finish.

Since the first crowd of Paleo humans lined up to watch two or more other Paleo humans see who could run the fastest, throw a spear the farthest, etc. there have doubtless been people betting on, filing protests, and worrying about the next week’s results.

Making no secret of it, I would far rather participate in some kind of physical activity than to watch others do so. But when that is not possible, being a spectator will do.

Even sports that are hard to understand can draw my attention. Hockey for example, with its complex rules, is something I cannot hope to follow. But in spite of, or perhaps because of that lack of familiarity, I find the sport captivating to watch, especially live as opposed to television.

I think it is more than just the vicarious thrill when your rider, your horse, or your team emerges victorious. I think at some deep level, every one of us is cheering for one player, one team, to overcome the odds. It reminds us that, even in tough places, we can triumph.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at:

clyde_davis@yahoo.com