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Season of David - Part XXIII
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/09/30)

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The following "The Season of David" article is part of a weekly series by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. Hopefully, it will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work,school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

I sometimes wonder how it is that I ended up on the path that led me to basically devote my life to skiing fast. I then think back to when I started and why I cared. I realise that I was inspired by the nature of sport. Simply put, sport involves a concrete result, things are measurable and the better performance is rewarded. Also, sport is one of the few places where there is a correlation between effort and result. These factors are things that inspired me and on which I intend to expand this week.

It is comforting to know that unlike in other aspects of life, whoever best does the task will be rewarded. The competitive nature in me is also inspired by the idea that what I do is actually measurable against others. I realize now that life is not inherently competitive and that it is hard to measure oneself against others in life. In sport this is possible and satisfying. Also, the reliability that whoever skiis the fastest will be known and that this can be relied upon is something I like about sport. Another thing I like is that effort is rewarded. As a general rule, the person who skiis the fastest wants it the most and worked the hardest/best for the result. With relationships, jobs and income this is not the case, and with relationships should not be. This is largely what inspired me when I first started racing. I had not been particularly good at anything physical, but I worked fairly hard and the correlation I saw in improvement inspired me to work harder and desire more.

Another aspect of this rewarding of effort is that the victor is known and beforehand everyone knows what is necessary to achieve victory. There is an inherent fairness in this; we all show up, ski as fast as we can and the most deserving person wins. Nobody gets a handicap, shorter course or improved placing due to friendships with race organizers. When this even beginning is lost, sport suffers and loses many of the reasons for doing it. When awards and places on teams are given contrary to results, then the achievement loses its value and sport the reasons for participating.

From this essence, sport is not about personal grievances or the desire to harm opponents but a competition between people with the same objective in which one achieves this. I remember my junior coach, Dave Battison, saying that he wanted to race against the strongest competitors on their best day and beat them. This is a message I agree with. In its essence sport involves the desire to outdo others, not out of their weakness, but out of the superiority of your desire and ability. It does not hope to win because someone got tripped, equipment broke or illness. It involves racing the toughest competitor head to head and just being stronger on the day. This is a reason why I have a problem with doping and the use of teammates to obstruct opponents.

Another aspect of sport is that the result must be accepted. This goes two ways. I do not like the use of courts to resolve sporting results. We can see all the problems this caused in Italian soccer this season (Seria B). It also means that when something goes wrong (slow skis, broken equipment, illness) that there is no whining but merely an effort to do better next time and to ski so fast that these will not impede you. It may not be ideal, but the nature of the competition requires that it be accepted. For the victor, though, the exceptional weakness of a key opponent is not the best way to win.

Last week I mentioned a running race I won in Ottawa. I was pleased with it because I ran fast and ran away from a strong runner late. It was not the ideal way to win though, since I benefited from some confusion that negated his earlier lead. The result holds that I won and must for the integrity of the event to be maintained since I covered the course in the least amount of time. This is not my preferred way to win. I would have preferred to stick with him until the point when I ran away from him and then drop him in the same manner. That would be an ideal victory and hold to beating strong opponents due to my own skill and not their weakness. These are certain innate characteristics about sport that make it such an inspiring thing to participate in.

 
Interesting Reading. . .
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