Coopetition

Athletes are inherently selfish.  They are constantly looking for that edge, for that workout or supplement that will keep their head bobbed among their peers.  They want to be able to do more, so that by the law of 10,000 hours they will be able to do better.

If they play a team sport, they may often be found training in a group, or even helping others get better, but their fundamental goal is to stay ahead of the pack.  You want your teammates to get good, but not better than you.  After all, your friend can become your enemy in an instant.  That switch from cordial to cutthroat is an impetuous one.   How quickly your eyes can narrow when sensing a threat.

It’s only when an athlete senses they have reached their peak and have begun their decline that they begin to put the knives away.  They begin to look around and search for those they can inspire and lead.  They find the same joy and excitement in sharing the game that they once did dominating it.  They fall back in love with the game that took their physical gifts, and happily re-commit to another ten years of sport infatuation.

Seeing that they can no longer maintain their eliteness, and that they will soon drift back down to anonymity, they find solace in being a buttress for their peers.  They cement themselves as a team anchor to ensure they can still be a part of it all.  Their pedestal remains intact.  Once desperate to fend off, they now reach down to pull up. Their desperate ferocity has a new focus and meaning.

photo credit: momiliesandmore.com

Only when you fully give up the notion of being the best can you truly become a cooperative being. It’s amazing how you pile up the wins when nobody has to lose.

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