Friday, February 11, 2011

The definition of success

This seems to be a polarizing issue for NZ at the moment:

It lead me to thinking – how should we define success? As it happens, I completely agree with Dick Taylor.

Fair play to the All Whites for putting in a proud performance in the World Cup. They served their country well, and deserve respect for stepping up to the big boys of their sport and being counted. But I think it’s a sad reflection of our times when the Halberg Award is given to a team to that didn’t actually win anything (or qualify for the second round of their focal tournament).

Rewarding mediocrity - it’s symptomatic of the PC ‘every participant deserves a medal’ culture that is now pervading in our society.

The whole argument about ‘football is the biggest sport in the world… etc’ seems like a red herring. The ultimate objective of a competitive sporting outfit (or individual) surely remains the same – to win. And if you're going to play with the big boys, then you have to compare yourself to the big boys.

In this case it comes down to one group of men against another. On what basis do we lower the threshold of ‘success’ to merely ‘not losing’ or ‘not getting hammered’? And then commend ourselves for achieving that level of ‘success’. Is there an assumption that the Spanish or Dutch possess some sort of super-power that Kiwi men don’t enjoy, which warrants the application of a ‘handicap’ on how we define success in the context of World Cup football?

Or is it because a couple of the All Whites had to lodge an annual leave request at the local bakery in order to travel with the team to the World Cup? Does the amateur and underdog status mean that by showing up and not being disgraced, they are more ‘successful’ than a team like the All Blacks? (note the irony there that someone so ‘successful’ is unable to secure a profession in the sport)

As far as I could see, the 2010 All Blacks side was a model of what a successful team looks like. What more could they have done to deserve this award?

What do you think?