This week I have rewatched the documentary series ‘Cheer’ on Netflix and it still fascinates me greatly. It features many of the behavioral issues the modern man has made part of his personality – such as unhealthy competition and its cousins comparison and jealousy.
The documentary covers the life of members in a competitive cheerleader team that competes on a college level – the highest level there is – because apparently – after college the average cheerleader body is worn out (at 18 years old!). And this team and its coach has one goal, to win a particular competition at the end of the college semester – and to win this competition they must push their bodies to the brink of what is possible. Hence they practice around 5 ours each day for almost a year to get to one point – to win this competition. And the coach explains how stressed she is and how she cannot sleep because she is thinking about cheerleading strategies. And several of the cheerleaders remark throughout the series that they are in a lot of pain.
And as the season proceeds and we get closer to the competition the anxiety and fear gets even worse. People have emotional break downs, they fight with each other, and still they keep on pushing forward. Whether they enjoy their training or not is of a secondary priority – what always comes first is WINNING.
In the season finale the team actually wins the tournament and everyone is extremely happy. And for an entire day, or maybe even a week, they feel fantastic, and then – it is back to everyday life. The question I had in my mind was whether it was worth it? Was it worth living in anxiety for almost 12 months, was it worth pushing the body beyond its limits and experiencing much pain and discomfort, for one moment of having a great feeling of winning?
To me, it simply does not make sense. We tend to sacrifice so much of ourselves, our souls in the name of success and winning, and at the end of the day when we have won, all that is left is a feeling of emptiness that urge us to yet again restart the process of attempting to prove ourselves to the world. And what drives us forward but this anxiety and stress, essentially a form of survival. And this survival is always becoming more extreme, as everyone tries to push themselves to win and become better. So, if we look back just 50 years, cheerleading has changed from a couple of girls doing coordinated moves to advanced aerial acrobatics – and this is true for so many others sports as well – it has become more extreme – all in an effort to win.
We tend to like survival, at least when we are winning. And we like the energies so much that we have difficulty seeing what we are creating in our daily living. If we live 364 days of a year in emotional pain and instability, to have 1 day of success, is that truly how we want to experience ourselves? Is that we want of our world? A world filled with losers 364 days of a year and winners 1 days of the year? Because that is also problematic with competition, someone MUST lose for someone else to win. Someone must receive the ticket to a blissful experience while someone else must be number two.
I want a reality where everyone are winners – where competition is something that you do for fun and where the well-being of the body is put first and the desire to win second – and I want a reality where we first prioritize giving everyone a life worth living – with sustenance, shelter and support – and only after that is done – we allow ourselves to develop entertainment, because that is what sports is, nothing more.
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