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Sunday, July 15, 2012

We all need more competition

In 1930 and 31 my Great Uncle Tim Quinn was the fastest runner in the United States as you can see here and here and here . He was so fast, and so famous in his home town, that he was the first member elected to the Ludington, Michigan sports hall of fame at White Pine Village.  At least once every ten years the Ludington Daily News writes an article on him.

In one of the articles someone, perhaps his brother, was interviewed for the article.  He said that Tim ran so fast his brother Don couldn't keep up with him.  They'd practice a couple times a week running the 8 mile jaunt from Ludington to Scottville.  The person also said that Tim could have been even faster if he had competition.  

I think of my Uncle Tim every time I read about Tiger Woods.  Tiger woods was so good when he started playing golf that he won everything.  As an amateur and as a pro he was a winner.  Some tournaments, I remember one Green Jacket in particular, he won by such a large margin it wasn't even close.

The thing about Tiger is that he was so good he made everyone else around him better.  He was the pinnacle of a golf player, and other players knew they had to take more risks, practice more, and play better.  And I think that's what we are seeing in golf today.  That, I think, is one of the reasons he is just one of many great golfers in the PGA.

Tiger is what my Uncle Tim needed.  Other Tigers, of course, are the New York Yankees in baseball, the New England Patriots in football and the LA Lakers and Celtics in basketball.  I think these elite players/teams are great for sports and life in general.  It's forces the rest of us to work harder and do better.

Yet for the person at the top, Tim Quinn, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley, it's lonely.  It's difficult to learn to cope with this type of fame because so few have it.  Neither had a mentor who had similar fame to learn from.  While they provided the competition to make other people better, they themselves fell.

Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the mighty British Empire were Tigers woods.  They had what everyone else wanted, and all other nations strove for such heights.  Yet while those nations rose to great heights, they all fell due to lack of competition above them.  They helped others rise, yet no one helped them stay at the top.

I think America is another Tiger Woods.  I think America, at it's pinnacle in the 1920s, 1950s, 1980, 1990s, and through most of the 2000s was so mighty, so great, it forced other nations to do better.  American has not fallen because there is competition at the top, and there are mentors in the name of books that tell of why great empires of the past fell.

Most of Europe now is democratic, and many nations in the Middle East are headed that way.  When people see greatness they want it for themselves.  They strive for more.  Hence we have rebellions in totalitarian states.  Yet few can handle such greatness and are henceforth destroyed by insidious means, or by their own actions.

My Uncle Tim was all alone at the top.  He was so high he was alone.  He was so high that when his running career ended he turned to alcohol.  He didn't know anything else besides running.  He died an untimely death in a Detroit alley in 1960 at the young age of 48.  You can see his records here.


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