First off, I am not one of those “everyone gets a medal for showing up” people. Screw that nonsense. I'm glad you came to participate, but you don't get anything special because of it. Prizes are awarded to those who finish exceptionally well, and if you don't, better luck next time. You need a reason to try, in my opinion, which is what the prize does until you reach a certain level of competition. I'm not saying that we should turn sports into a love in where everyone feels good about themselves. Losing sucks, but it's a growing experience. MY question is, can a remarkable season that ends in a loss still be considered a success or do we only judge teams but how many shiny baubles they have won? (and then which particular baubles because only one really counts...)
My other half has brought up this conundrum as well. The countries that go to the Olympics all know full well that maybe 4-5 countries have athletes that can actually compete for a medal. The rest won't get a shot at gold, or silver, or bronze. They'll just get to go home. So why go? Why bother when you know you're going to lose? Why ice 30 NHL teams each year when only one can win the Cup? Shouldn't the preordained winners just compete and save everyone else the trouble?
I think this is a dangerous point of view. Sports is all about competition, driving yourself to be better than you ever have been, and chance. Unexpected chances for glory. Unexpected hot streaks, unexpected runs. Why do those other countries/team play? Because of what is possible.
If we knew the outcome every time, sports would be boring. And if only teams that won consistently could compete, we'd still end up with losers. Plus, it'd be boring as hell. Sports is interesting because of the unknown, because there is the drama of potential triumphs and upsets and crushing defeats. I think it's time we start acknowledging that there's a lot more to a season than just winning the big shiny. It's about the journey too. Success shouldn't be define by one win, it should be defined by the overall season. Winning is great, but if we only use that to determine success, a lot of us will be very disappointed at season's end.