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If You Ain’t First, You’re Last!


I’m the best there is – plain and simple. I mean, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence. You know, nobody can hang with my stuff. I’m just a–just a big, hairy, American winning machine. “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” You know? You know what I mean? ~Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

I have pretty much quit playing sports. I have not completely for I do take part in the occasional mountain bike race.
Quitting sport was difficult because I have always been competitive, have always enjoyed competition. The problem, though, is that it wasn’t uncommon for me to push the bounds of ethical integrity in competition as it also wan’t uncommon for me smash through those bounds and end up with ethical integrity a distant vision on the horizon in my quest to win at all costs.
There were times in the heat of competition when I would get mean towards my opponent and, at times, toward my teammates. It was a regular occurrence for me to taunt opponents even when playing against friends, to rub victory in their faces. And therein lies the problem.
When I was mean, when I bragged and taunted, when I screamed and yelled, I would hurt relationships with friends. Sometimes my behaviors would damage relationships beyond reapir.
I was much older when I discovered the extent of the hurt I caused. It was during an indoor soccer game in an adult, coed league. I yelled at one of my female teammates for getting in my way when she prevented me from intercepting a pass going to an opponent, a pass that eventually led to a goal scored against my team. I was very angry and let that anger explode. After that, it was never the same between us.
That incident caused me to look deep and hard into my behaviors, into the silliness that drove me to want victory at all costs, no matter the cost. I eventually decided the cost of victory can be too high.
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