VOL. 129 | NO. 38 | Tuesday, February 25, 2014
‘Shredder’ Without Cheese
By Susan Drake
If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you may have seen a snowboarder injure his ankle, finish that run and then do another, despite having what he later described as a “shredded” ankle. A lot of people think that’s heroic. I agree that it showed courage and determination.
But here’s who I think was one of the truly heroic people at Sochi: a noble Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna, who won a gold medal in the 15-kilometer event and then collapsed at the finish line. He could have left immediately and gone to rest. But he didn’t. He waited 28 minutes, shaking the hand of every skier who crossed the finish line, including the last place skier from Peru. Appreciation for the other competitors. That is noble.
There were a lot of serious injuries this year, along with slurs about a skating coach being unfair to her two medal-winning couples, the poor conditions of the halfpipe and the hated uniforms that supposedly lost the U.S. medals in speed skating.
Although we can tell who the favorites are going into a competition, we can’t ever be absolutely sure of the winner until the race is run. Even if you hire the best coaches, buy NASA-worthy uniforms and develop flawless techniques, you may still not go home a winner.
But what you can go home as is noble, like Dario Cologna. He has the personal power that comes from being a good sportsman and a man of honor. He sacrificed his own comfort to show kindness to others.
Unfairness. Shameful behavior. Envy. Name calling. All of that will happen, but we don’t have to participate. As a contestant, there’s only one thing we can be certain of even before the event begins, and that is that we are going to be noble throughout, no matter what happens.
And remember, there is no such thing as an event that is noble. Only people can be noble.
My father told me a story of going deer hunting with some friends in Mississippi about 55 years ago.
There was drinking and singing and dancing, and early the next morning, all the guys jumped in the bed of the pickup truck and passed out guns all around. They spread out through the woods to wait for bragging rights to a nice, eight-point buck. Dad sat down in a clearing on a fallen tree, and before he knew it, up walked a beautiful creature. The deer stopped just about 10 yards away. “I looked that deer in the eye, and he looked at me, and then he just walked quietly away. No way could I shoot that deer.” He picked up the gun and walked back to camp.
I guess it’s heresy around these parts to say that it was noble not to kill the deer. But to me, without a sporting chance, there’s no sport. Just appreciation for the beauty, the talent and the nobility of the other competitors.
Susan Drake is a professional marketing and communications professional. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.