There are two forms of competition, neither of which exist at the University of Dallas.
Let me explain myself …
On the surface, the nature of competition seems quite hazy — at its very essence is a certain nastiness, a desire for an individual to assert dominance or superiority over someone else. It often comes off as primal, passionate and sometimes just plain ugly. This competition, which can be called destructive competition, may be seen at high-pressure schools, such as Harvard or Princeton, where students climb and claw over each other by any means in order to be recognized or glorified. Thankfully, we don’t have that issue here at UD. But there is such a thing as a healthy spirit of competition, and it is my belief that this form of competition is nearly invisible here at UD.
Don’t get me wrong, there are competitive people at UD. We see it every day — in school, at the gym, and especially during pick-up basketball games or intramurals. Competition affects all parts of our lives, whether we like it or not. It impassions us, causing us to strive for greatness and recognition, but sometimes causing us to lose control of our emotions. Yes, there are competitive people at UD — I am sure everyone knows a few. But what this school lacks above all else is a competitive spirit, one that drives us to work together towards common goals.
To begin with, we should take pride in the fact that not too many people at this school exhibit an excess of destructive competition, the kind that aims primarily to assert superiority over others for the mere sake of being superior. Competition such as this is what leads to arguments, fights and even wars. Though a person might “compete” with himself in order to improve, by its very definition competition involves an interaction with other people.
And that is exactly what this school lacks — a competition that involves multiple individuals interacting together to improve each other for a common good.
This form of competition, known as constructive competition, is a rare sight here at UD, especially amongst classmates and teammates. Mediocrity — on the field or in the classroom — is accepted nonchalantly, and failure is followed by back-patting. Most importantly, constructive criticism seems to be nearly non-existent, when it should be embraced as a method to improve us in all aspects of life. Certainly, individuals here push themselves to be better, academically, morally and physically, but we hardly take the time out of our busy days to push each other. This undoubtedly has a negative effect on our overall performance at this school.
We can see this happen before our eyes every day, either in the classroom or in competitive sports. I do it all the time: whenever one of my classmates performs poorly on his test, I fall back to what’s easy — helping my classmate make excuses as to why he performed poorly. I take the easy way out, rather than engaging in helpful criticism that may help my classmate in the long run.
Our sports are an even more glaring example of this, as we are stained with a tradition of mediocrity. Yet rather than finding meaningful ways to help our teams get better, we tend to nonchalantly turn a blind eye to the repeated lack of success.
‘“Better luck next time,” we say.
Inherent in the practice of constructive competition is a deep desire to improve not only as individuals, but also as a community. Here at UD, we all have ambitions, most of them noble and noteworthy. But sometimes we get so caught up in our own goals that we fail to recognize the goals of the community around us, and while positive re-enforcement certainly may have benefits, it can only get us so far.
This community needs constructive competition; it needs an open discourse of opinions in order to achieve common goals. We need less back-patting and more constructive criticism. UD needs to turn competition into the virtue that it has the potential to be — the one that’s harder to achieve, but more rewarding in the long run. We need to push each other, to compete in order to become the community that God has called us to become.