Sochi 2014 has been the talk of the town. You can strike up a conversation about the Olympics with a Starbucks barista, a classmate, a prof, everyone is invested and cheering on Canada. I don’t know the first thing about Ice Dancing (I believe most Canadians are claiming the Olympic Judges don’t either after Tessa and Scott’s silver) but I find myself glued to the T.V screen, informing my friends of the athlete’s life story and past record.
In the age of social media and the immense Olympics coverage both online and on T.V, spectators across the world feel closer to the athletes more than ever. As athletes were arriving in the village to participate in the biggest competition of their lives…many articles revolved around the toilets…. At first I found this quite distressing, athletes going to the Games, a competition they have spent 4 years training for, and people are more concerned with the construction zone that was the athlete’s village. But as the events started, news of the athlete’s amazing achievements and incredible stories came rolling in. Past the thousands of messages of support seen on Twitter and the news, I found different stories constantly showing up on my newsfeed. Stories of a Canadian cross country ski coach helping a Russian skier with a broken ski, or Gilmore Junio giving up his spot in a race because he believed Denny Morrison had a better chance at a medal. These are the stories that people are gravitating to and supporting by sharing all over social media.
The Olympics are a celebration of human success. Olympic Medals represent hard work, dedication and athletic ability. Seeing these stories of athletes, or countries helping one another on the most competitive stage in the world shows the success of human values such as selflessness, empathy and compassion. I love that these moments have been highlighted in the Games, for me it opens my eyes to the bigger picture. Yes sports are competitive, and yes we want to win, but at the end of it all, what are the true achievements of your career? The medals and world records, or the inspiration that you have provided to so many? Is a world record your name in the news or in the history books, validation and recognition for your hard work? You know that that record won’t last forever, someone will break it and there will be a new name in the books. With each new record or medal you are pushing the sport forward, inspiring the next generation to be stronger, faster, better.
When you’re competing you are really only competing against yourself. To improve, to have a chance at success simply means beating yourself to that finish line. That’s the only thing you can control in sports, you can’t beat everyone else by making them worse, only by making yourself better. So to win this constant battle against yourself, training or playing with just selfish motives will surely leave you in a stalemate. You need a bigger inspiration to drive you past your limits and that little voice in your head telling you to stop the pain. That inspiration comes from realizing what you represent, all those you can inspire whether it’s your teammates, future stars of your sport, your Nation or even your mum. Once you recognize this and appreciate it, you can then harness all of this support or energy. I’m having a hard time properly articulating this theory of mine so please allow me to put it as simply as I can….This battle against yourself I mentioned earlier, if you come to this battle field with just yourself, meaning you are just playing for yourself, and your opposition is yourself then you have two equal forces against each other. Drawing inspiration from the bigger picture and playing for something bigger than yourself takes you to the battle field with all of this artillery behind you, an overwhelming force to defeat that part of yourself telling you to stop.
Playing for someone or something bigger than yourself will push you so much further. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture so you don’t get stuck on a narrow path to success with just you and yourself.