Competition is not healthy. I enjoyed the summer’s sport as much as the next lazy asthmatic. I felt proud of my city, the drama was exhilarating and many athletes had an endearing humility or cheekily-harmless hubris. And it must have been irksome to racists. Mo ran so well that hardly a soul in the land questioned his nationality. It’s only right he should run for the country in which he lives: America. I jest.
But watching the long-distance running, I started to wish each athlete had run separately, unaware of how others had run. All the ‘intelligent’ and ‘talented’ stuff seemed to involve messing up the opponents, deliberately tiring them, making them run at a pace they didn’t like, getting in front to slow the race down, holding back to let others burn themselves out. It’s quite cynical, and realising that is like the moment you realise boxing is genuinely fighting.
I’m being too serious; sport isn’t important. That’s the joy of it. People can be competitive because nothing much is at stake. And competitiveness is not the whole story. Courage, dedication and the pursuit of excellence are involved and all have value in other areas of life. But competition doesn’t, so why inculcate kids with it?
Did sibling rivalry make you happy? Would you like to be treated by a more competitive doctor? Would the roads be safer with more jostling for position? Do you want hypermarkets to win the battle with local shops? Do you want your kids fattened on competitively-farmed fried chicken? Do you want the sky full of cheap flights and greenhouse gases? Do you want elections determined by a tiny margin of difference among the runners and the amount of money spent on them? Does it matter that this isn’t the best column you’ve ever read?
#226 Get Socialism Done ● Special US section edited by Joe Guinan and Sarah McKinley ● A post-austerity state ● Political theatre ● Racism in football ● A new transatlantic left? ● Britain’s zombie constitution ● Follow the dark money ● Book reviews ● And much more
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
From protest marches to mass trespass, walking has always been an important part of struggles for change, says Des Garrahan
Refugees using football as a way to build communities of resistance, report Eline Yara Jeanné and Beeke Katarina Melcher.
The new Women’s Super League season kicked off with renewed media attention. Alex Culvin analyses the growth of women’s football
The new Women’s Super League season kicked off in September with renewed media attention. Alex Culvin analyses the growth of women’s football
As the Premier League kicks off across England this weekend, Red Pepper columnist Siobhán McGuirk spoke to scholar, author and Everton fan Emy Onuora about racism in football, right-wing 'fan' groups, and the legacies of Russia 2018
'Home' is not a simple place. Sivamohan Valluvan and Malcolm James explore the complex relationship between nationalism, race and belonging in the beautiful game.