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Do you participate in sports to win or to have fun? Is it okay to lose so that others can win and is it okay that others lose so that you can win? Do you see yourself as a winner or a loser?

Within looking at the element of competition that is inherent within sports, there are two points that are embedded in the polarities of winning and losing. These are currently what we are competing for.

One is money,  as can be seen within the prizes, salaries and grants that are given to “top athletes” when they win. The other is honor, which can be seen for example starting with the ancient Olympic Games and how the winners were rewarded with laurel leaves wreaths and applauded by the crowd and how certain athletes today are worshipped as heroes, even though their accomplishments are limited to winning a match on a soccer field or in a tennis court. Through this most people on Earth support all forms of competition that allows one to either win or lose.

Within investigating the origin of the word compete, we shall see that it is not the point of competition itself that is unacceptable or not best for all, but instead what happens when competition is made into a form of war, where people must fight each other, even in sports, to survive in the system. This is because the system is designed this way and because everyone accepts the conditions pertaining to it. Thus competition as it exists currently is based on an acceptance of the possibility of either winning or losing where, because we want to win, we accept the possibility of losing and thus accept loss as a valid element in our system. Furthermore, the validation of competition as a basic element of the system is the belief that we must fight each other’s to survive. The ones best at surviving wins. This is what has transcended into sports where the seriousness of survival in our everyday lives is turned into drama and entertainment in sports.

Historically competition has been seen as a natural instinct of survival that is inherently existent within humans as well as animals and plants. Competition has been seen as a point of natural selection that exists to prevent unbalances and decrease in the genetic development of an organism.

One of the most famous references to competition has been Darwin’s concept of “survival of the fittest.” That Darwin in the same moment said “…for mutual aid[1], has been disregarded and perhaps devalued. It is from this perspective clear that there is an element to competition where the competitors not only compete against each other but actually also with each other.

The word ‘compete’ stems from Latin and contains two definitions of which one has become more dominant as we have shown. This pertains to the fighting aspect of competition and the other pertains to an aspect of competition that is based on agreement and a coming together.

1610’s, from M.Fr.compéter “ be in rivalry with” (14c.), or directly from L.L competere “strive in common,” in classical Latin “to come together, agree, to be qualified, “later, “strive together,” from com- “together” (see com-) + petere “to strive, seek, fall upon, rush at, attach” (see petition)[2]

We will therefore here distinguish between these two perspectives on competition, one being aggressive and destructive where there can only be one winner and a loser and the other that focuses on a mutual agreement and corporation.

Adam Smith who was famous for promoting ‘friendly competition’, perceived the concept of friendly competition as the foundation for the free markets and their agents’ ability to move freely.  From this perspective competition is seen based on the idea that the mutual agreement to compete is in everyone’s best interest and that everyone will win. [3] This fits with one element of the original Latin definition where competition is something we do together. It is thus also interesting to note that Smith’s ideal society where everyone competes as equals is far from the reality of the free markets we see today. Therefore we are required to look even further at the notion of competition within economy where the market is portrayed as a playground where each compete as equals, exactly as it is also portrayed in sports, to understand why and how competition is lived differently than it is defined.

When looking further into nuancing competition as either friendly or not, specifically in relation to the money system, we must face that “…we have built war into our society’s economic design as competition” as noted by the Danish Philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup[4]

According to Løgstrup it is vital to distinguish between competition as a “hardcore fight” and competition as something encouraging, mutual and fun.  For Løgstrup it is the element of playing and having fun that is relevant in competition, and which validates competition, for example in the school system, where the purpose is not to win, but to test one’s boundaries  – exactly as in the original definition of “striving together”.

To understand why it is not so in fact, we require distinguishing between voluntary and forced competition, which is particularly interesting in relation to the definition of competition as a basis for the free market money systems because that is, as in Adam Smith’s definition, validated and legitimized through the idea of all being equal in participation. Because when looking upon the actual living out of the free market money system, it is clear that all do NOT have an equal opportunity to participate. In fact that opportunity is rather fictive and theoretical that pertaining to any real situation. Thus the money system as it exists today, actually defies competition as something mutual.

When competition is forced and not agreed to from an equal starting-point, the people participating are not equals. This is the money-system we exist within and it is not a game.

We do not have equal opportunities to participate in the money systems (or anywhere) and therefore it is not a game where everyone has fun. The same can be said about how sport exists, as sport is directly reflecting the rest of the world systems as sport exist dependent upon these systems.  In fact, sport as it exists today, has more to do with generating money than with having fun. It has more to do with winning honor in the form of money, than participating in or watching sport from a starting-point of self-enjoyment.

So why is forced competition, for example through how sport, generally supported by governments and politicians and accepted as valid? And if the money-system is indeed liberating and based on a free market, why are all not equally able to participate?

According to Løgstrup it is the State that is responsible for ensuring that the forced competition were restricted and regulated, exactly because a society’s economy and institutions are dependent upon the policy decided by the politicians. He says that: “when it is the State, that with its education (of children) delivers its most important factor for production, more important than land and capital, that is, the scientific and planning intelligence, should the State then not also decide the goal for that production?”[5]

Thus the State sets the frame for the structure of society and through this directs society in a specific direction. The State can then both oppress and support initiatives through its interventions, for example in the education system. We are currently existing within a system that on one hand claims to be “free” and “liberal” and that “everyone is equally participating”, yet in practice it is exactly the opposite. In the schools children are forced to compete with the goal of becoming successful adults which essentially means “make a lot of money”. People do sports specifically in the hopes of becoming one of the few that makes lots of money and will do anything to themselves (and their children) in order to fulfill this dream.  More than half the world’s population is more or less excluded from even participating in the education system and therefore from even participating in the competition. In all areas of life in the current money-system, competition is based on fighting against each other as that is the basis for the money-system itself.

The entire system as we all participate in it, promotes the idea that “anyone can win” for example through inserting and supporting a few poor people to be the stars and heroes of sport teams, giving anyone who could possible identify with that person a hope that they too can become famous, adored and make lots of money. Therefore, the system supports inequality through competition and those representing the system as the politicians are merely placing the policies that will keep the system running, exactly as the corporations will run on a momentum of having to make more and more money to keep running.

So the State is responsible for ensuring effective policies to restrict competition that does not support mutual agreement’s, yet the State as the governments and politicians are merely reflecting and representing us as human beings and the system with which we’ve agreed to manage our lives. Thus we are in fact all equally responsible for how we live and exist as fighting each other while we could in fact be existing in such a way, where competition merely is a way of playing where we come together and test our boundaries in a mutual and equal agreement.

In an Equal Money System, sports will not be based on winning or losing money or honor, because our system will not be based on having to fight each other to survive. Nor will it be based on winning or losing honor as all life will be honored equally. This means that sports will become much more focused upon the physical experience and expression as well as the actual self-enjoyment and perfection of skills in the particular sports that one is interested in. We will most likely see much more top-athletes as those that exist currently are restricted and excluded so that a point of a “hero” is held in place, to give everyone the perception that they too can “make it”, yet where very few actually are able to make money on doing sports. Some might also stop participating in the sport they have been participating in, because they were paced and pushed by their parents.

Thus we will see a return of competition through sport as a mutual and equal agreement to come together to test one’s boundaries and expand ones skills and expression. To see what this will be like, all we have to do is to look at small children and how they compete without being concerned with winning and simply participate to enjoy themselves and each other in and as a physical expression of self. So If there is a sport you have always wanted to participate in, yet have refrained from either because you could not afford it, did not have time or perhaps refrained from because of the element of malevolent competition, you will in an Equal Money System be able to try and express yourself within any form of sport and enjoy the expression of others without fearing that they will win over you. Finally we will be able to have real fun and to perfect ourselves within the dreams we have always dreamt of living out and as, whether being snowboarding down the alpes or simply having a field to play soccer on.  An Equal Money System will be an entirely new world on Earth, because it will be based on equal self-responsibility where we will all direct the system as equals according to what is best for all.

[1] Montagu, 1952/1053, p. 143

[4] (My translation) 1972, p. 180, quoted from Korsgaard 2007, p. 142

[5]( My translation) Korsgaard 2007, p. 147