Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Even if you aren't a baseball fan, or a sports fan for that matter- you can't read the news without hearing something about the woes of Barry Bonds. He's fundamentally painted himself into a corner with regard to his alleged steriod use. I say "alleged" because although most people, including myself, believe he's used performance enhancing substances - it's still not proven in court. The funny thing is that this has been going on for a long time. In fact, Playboy ran an article back in 2004 about an undercover agent who weaved himself into Barry's circle through his trainer and BALCO and witnessed all of this first-hand. It's not really a matter of if he was taking something, but more what he was taking.

Rather than re-hashing what hundreds of sports writers have already written, I'd rather focus on competition as a whole. I'm not really a Barry Bonds fan, although I do respect his spirit of competition and believe that despite his probable poor judgement, he's a good guy. A centered guy. A focused guy. He's the godson of Willy Mays, a baseball legend at a time when being a black athlete wasn't commonplace. Willy was also a true competitor.

So what makes someone a true and good competitor? Well, I'm sure the definition could easily be debated, but in my opinion it's someone who seeks out the best and strives to be better. Those who take the "eliminate the competition" approach aren't competitors - afterall, you can't have competition if your nemisis is eliminated. A competitor is someone who admires the accomplishments of the competition and aspires to raise the bar. Often times there is static and additional hurdles that one must ignore or maneuver around. For old Willy Mays, it was the color of his skin. He adapted and he overcame.

So when does enhancing one's ability to be a better competitor cross the line? Competition happens in every part of our lives whether we like it or not. Personal relationships and business are two of the biggest forums of competition we deal with everyday. Often times we change things about ourselves to be more competitive in these areas and sometimes those changes are not interchangeable with other competitive aspects to life. Plastic surgery or "enhancement", as it's commonly marketed, is something that is growing in popularity these days. Don't like something about your physical features? It's not getting you the physical attention that you deserve? Easily fixable. Will that help or hurt your professional life? If you are an exotic dancer, it can't hurt. If you are a professional, it really could go either way. What about the way you treat your significant other (or best friend) vs. the way you treat your boss and/or subordinates? We all know that treating these two groups of people the same won't make for the best of circumstances. If you treat your loved ones like subordinates, they may not be loving you back for very long. If you treat your subordinates like loved ones, you may find that productivity is breached. That, or you are served with an harassment suit.

Finally, do all competitors have to begin and end on equal footing on a level playing field? The real life answer to that question is that it's completely impossible. People all have their gifts and talents and just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike. Some have many physical attributes that make them appealing or competitive and at the same time not much more. Others lack physically but have tons of other appealing attributes that give them an edge. To want to enhance upon what we lack is human nature.

Barry Bonds has had an amazing career. I remember first seeing him play back in the early 90's when he was with the Pirates. I also saw him play on opening day this year, perhaps for the last time, against the Padres- when fans overwhelmingly boo'd him while one threw a syringe at him. These people are not competitors, nor do they understand competition. I have my own ideas about Barry and his (alleged) steroid use, which are irrelevent at this point. His lifetime work, his records and acheivements will always be tarnished and any other punishment will pale in comparison. I can say, however, that despite everything, I've found his composure and disposition to be consistent with what competition is all about.

Now, does anyone know where I can find something to make someone taller and witty?