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?


Ben & Kat said...

I disagree completely and think Dick Taylor's behaviour was disgraceful.

Comparing the all whites against the all blacks and others is pointless - apples and oranges.

The Halbergs are about rewarding sporting excellence; in order to understand excellence you have to understand:

Ability, context and expectations.

The all-whites were massive underdogs,playing in the biggest single sporting event in the world (don't forgot they won to get there) and exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. The All whites played beyond their ability against teams far superior quality.

The impact of their performance will be remembered for a generation and the global sporting kudos received was huge for the way they played (passion, team-work and hard-work) and their results. They set a new-benchmark for future all white teams to achieve, anything less will be a failure.

The all blacks are expected to win and they had a good year, the kiwis and netball won world champs and could of pipped the footballers without much complaints.

To suggest the all blacks should won is outrageous, if they win the world cup next year - fair dues. They are recognised as the best team in the world, and expectations are high and context is small (globally)

New Zealand will not win the football world cup in the next 100 years but they have set a new standard for football in New Zealand that will leave a legacy in history both on and off the field.

For me that is sporting excellence,and far more interesting than looking at wins / loses/ draws.

ability, expectations and context.

mickhanney said...

I can see both sides of the argument but really any awards are very subjective. IMO winning isn't everything. The all whites were expected to be trounced and they turned in performances that exceeded expectations. Fair play to them.

Kieran Coleman said...

I know very little about sport in NZ (although I did just watch a causal cricket game for the first time in my life today in Auckland), but I disagree with you Jase.

Would a logical extension of your argument be that if the All Blacks win the rugby world cup and the NZ women's table tennis team win the table tennis world cup, then both achievements are equal and the award should be split between the two?

The fact that the soccer world cup is the world's biggest single sport competition, and therefore achievements at it have a massive world impact has to be factored in.