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Competition

As an avid sports fan, one of my favorite sports is track and field, because it is elemental. A primal sport. It's just you against you. I met a coach once, some time ago, when I was visiting Philadelphia, who I want to pay homage to by relaying something he taught me about competition. He and I had a very similar view of sports and competition. We weren't competitive in the classical sense, but we had to be the best at everything. It wasn’t something done out of anger or spite of the challenger it was done out of love. Love of the game. When I was younger everything was a race. It wasn’t just sports. It was drinking, girls, and money. I wanted everything right now.  It was a desire to do well by my fellow man. If that meant beating him in something, then so be it. I was lending a helping hand. I knew early on that competition was a good thing. It made you better, stronger, faster. Being competitive, when you can control, is a dangerous weapon. 
THE BUSTER BROUGHT ME BACK!
It’s like putting your car in overdrive. Competition is just another word for a desire to win. To achieve. To stand up and tell the world and the universe that, “Yo, I’m still fucking here.” You thought I left? Died? Gave up and went home? Nah man. I told you I’d be right back. Whether its up the against the ropes, the bottom of the ninth, or final seconds of the fourth quarter it doesn't matter. It's Kobe doing work. It's yelling give ME the rock. That’s what competition is. Beating the other guy. Plain and simple. It's the turn on the final lap. It's the straightaway. It's pulling up to a guy you have no business racing, rolling down your window, and with a wave and a smile, cutting him off. Honk Honk. See ya later.  
The Octagon
In track, especially at the Mecca that is Penn Relays, it's the whoop from the stands that sounds like a fallout siren from the fifties, making your opponent feel like he's stuck in the mud. I don't know if any of you know the Armory in New York, but imagine running an all-out sprint around a track three stories high in a warehouse in Harlem. DMX blasting in the background. "Y’all gon make me lose my mind. Up in here. Up in here." They were underground foot races. The place is always crammed too. Kids hanging off the edge of the raised track and teammates and some coaches on the inner circle screaming and yelling. 
Drive the lane and dunk on dunkers
After two laps at a dead spring around a two hundred meter track, you are close to death. Literally, your brain has no idea where the other gear comes from. As you struggle to breathe, your vision goes blurry. You can barely hear yourself think about how much pain you are in. Someone is yelling, “Keep going. Fuck this kid next to you, why is he better than you?" You want it more then he does. I friend of mine would say, “He can’t bang with your shit.” So what do you do, Quit? Not now, not after all that, after what you’ve been through. You're so close. You can taste it on your lips?  If you win you'll be showered in roses like a gladiator in the Coliseum. You’re an unstoppable train. No one can stop you. Then as you look at the clock and smile, you lean and cross the line.  Break on through to the other side. Baton still in hand you get mobbed by the rest of your team. Bite your lip, nod your head, bounce around the track, pound your chest and think, “Rumble, young man, rumble.” 
"A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing."
That moment is when competition becomes something more. In an instant, it transforms. It becomes the sweetest thing known to man, excluding women. Unlike her cruel mistress of a sister, defeat, this diva is magnificent. Her name is Vittoria. Winning. Triumph. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but losers don’t get laid. A few years ago I was at the Atlantic 10 Track and Field Championship, in Charlotte, NC. I watched La Salle win in last race of the year, to repeat as champions for the second time. It came down to the wire. Charlotte, Temple, Fordham, Rhode Island, were all neck and neck with us going into the last hundred meters. A white kid in tube socks pulls out of the pack and marches to victory. He crossed the line and dropped the baton on the track like Chris Rock dropping the mic. They wanted to disqualify him. They didn’t. Fuck the police. That’s competition. 

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