November 16, 2007
Throughout human history, man has perpetually participated in competitions: the search for a mate, the quest for food, competitive Scrabble; competition is undoubtedly engraved into our nature. However, as the quest to civilize and tame our bestial tendencies becomes prevalent, the question arises, are the virtues of competition greater than its vices?
The main argument against competition is that it creates a situation where one can only succeed if others fail. This idea of competition as the triumph of one over another is often called unhealthy competition, and in such cases, the threat of defeat often becomes embarrassing and unbearable. Competition is like a Spin Doctors’ song. You can listen to it once and enjoy it for its catchy melody and place in pop culture; however after the third or fourth time the increase in suicidal thoughts is staggering. A child’s football game is one of the best arenas to see such over competition. In March 2001, in El Paso, an overly competitive football game with eight and nine-year-old players ended with one parent stabbing another in the head with a down marker. The assertion that competition is unhealthy because it leads to extreme actions is easily supported by the countless number of such parental actions at sports games. However, this is a distortion of competition.

Healthy competition brings out the best in people and products. Through feeding on the seemingly savage tendencies of human nature, one can receive the motivation to achieve greatness. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest proves to be a fantastic example of how intense competition can motivate one to achieve what may seem impossible. Takeru Kobayashi, the winner of the 2006 competition, miraculously ate fifty-three hot dogs in twelve minutes. It was the competition that motivated him to reach this goal, and through such motivation he established a pivotal moment of human achievement. Similarly, the basis of the American economy is fair competition. With several companies competing for the business of consumers, prices remain low and products are improved. Herbert Hoover, the only president to hold the prestigious position of being mentioned in the All in the Family theme song, once summarized this stance when he said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress."

Though competition may bring undesired results in the form of overreactions, the competition itself is a strong motivator and proves to enhance the results of human effort. The same way the competitive nature of a sports game may move the spectators to violence, it moves the child athletes to play their best. The success of the human race depends on the continued advancement of its members, men like Takeru Kobayashi or Toby Mao, the current world record holding Rubix cube champion, are the symbols for the continued success of humanity, and they reach these great achievements through the hard work inspired by intense competition. Competition continually raises standards, and as humanity rises to meet these goals, the human race lives long and prospers.

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