A Box of Trophies

Winner, winner, garbage picker
Someone was throwing away their trophies. There, beside the trash cans behind the batting cages was a cardboard box heaped high with trophies and medals, abandoned to the mercy of the LADWP. 

At first, I thought that I must have made a mistake. I’d glimpsed the box while running along the bike path behind the park, and there were still a group of guys in the batting cages- maybe the trophies belonged to them and they’d just set them aside until they loaded their gear to go home. When I ran back, the trophies were still there, but then again, so were the guys. 

The next day, when I ran by, the guys were gone, but the trophies were still there. They were big trophies too: double decker style trophies with multiple tiers like a wedding cake. Several of them were draped with medals.

I wondered what possessed someone to throw away their trophies. It seemed like a pretty meaningful statement to make, although in this age of participation trophies (do people still give participation trophies or has that finally been ridiculed into obscurity?), maybe it was someone just cleaning out their closets. 

The sight of that box of trophies got me thinking about the culture of winning. There’s a line in the Queen song “We Are the Champions” that goes: 

We are the Champions/ We are the Champions/ No time for losers/ Cuz we are the champions of the world

The ‘losers’ line always bothered me. I used to tell myself that I was just being oversensitive about it, that is been too strongly conditioned to believe that it was unsporting to call someone a loser that I couldn’t just enjoy a song about someone taking a victory lap. But the feeling never went away. I still don’t like the song very much because of it. I think it is very unbecoming for a champion to call their opponent a loser- it shows that they don’t respect our don’t recognize their opponent’s skill. I can’t help but think that someone who doesn’t respect their opponent isn’t really a champion no matter whether they win or lose. 

Similarly, I was watching (ok, listening) to the Golden Globes while puttering around the house. One of the winners was making their acceptance speech, and said something along the lines of: “I’m glad I won because it would be bad to lose two years in a row” alluding to the fact that he’d been nominated last year, but hadn’t won the trophy. On that one hand, I could see where he wss coming from- it’s hard to get so close to the top and not win the trophy. On the other hand, he didn’t exactly lose either- he still went home as a Golden Globe nominee. The nomination still follows him around for a year like a vote of confidence, and, in fact, will continue to follow him around for the rest of his life. It’s a little bit like being given a beautiful, faithful, helpful dog and spending all your time being sorry that it’s a mutt. 

The bottom line is: when you’re standing on the top of the mountain, it’s ok to be proud of making it to the top, but that doesn’t mean that the people still climbing are worse than you. Even trophies get put out with the trash. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 8, 2018.

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