Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

But You're Missing the Point!

Sandeep Dwivedi has a column in the Indian Express bemoaning India's poor Olympic performance (a perennial problem, it seems -- see previous entry), and cites my listing India's last-place finish in the 49er sailing event (reported here). He writes:
We can laugh it off, or we can look at it this way: Do we really need the humiliation of seeing our runners, boxers, archers, wrestlers, swimmers, oarsmen, sailors end up as stragglers?
He's the one seeing this in terms of humiliation, not me. And I believe that athletes understand that there's an element of risk in competition: there is a chance you might win, and a risk that you might lose, even badly. I have the greatest respect for competitors who know they have little to no chance, but try anyway. I have very little respect for people who blame their country's athletes for their perceived national humiliation. (They're there; you're not.) It's not my place to lecture, but I think that if India wants to win, it must not be afraid to lose.

On another note, Alan Lloyd sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago that took issue with one of my arguments:
Great site, and I understand its intent, however I disagree with you when you write "Of course, the worst at the Olympics is still much better than the rest of us could ever hope to do." Anyone can finish last, even me. I want to know how I can get a free trip to Athens and then stroll around the track, what a ride!
No disrespect to Mr. Lloyd, whose e-mail I appreciate receiving, but I meant that the results put in by even the last-place finishers are still better than most of us are capable, not the placing. Yes, anyone could come in last -- assuming they could finish -- but I don't think we could put up the same marks, by and large.

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