Friday, August 24, 2012
The Limitless Man
By Sam Manchester, a Press Service International volunteer Comment writer for Christian Today Australia
Special to ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS) -- Every four years we get to watch the best in the world performing in a drama they have poured hours of their lives into. Thousands of days of private training culminate in event after event and medal after medal.
You have an instant conversation topic with any person you meet and everyone has a story to share of something they’ve seen. The gripes of our day today seem to fade into the background as two hundred or so countries come together to write stories of greatness and loss.
But in amongst the cheers and chants, or perhaps on into some time after the victorious dust has settled, a new conversation emerges. Explanations surface to justify the performance and placement of an athlete or an entire country. The conditions, the mental game, the training style or intensity – what exactly was it that “cost us gold”.
In these recent 2012 London Olympics, Australians have turned viciously on the renown of silver medals. Silver doesn’t boost your position up the medal tally; it doesn’t announce your country’s worth as you move into the top five nations on the planet. Silver has become worthless because as a commodity; it doesn’t buy what we want. It’s so easy to forget that coming second in the Olympics is an impressive statement that, of all the countries that competed, there was only one better than you. One! But the speculation came thick and fast all the same.
Money, it has been claimed, is what cost us medals. Either we hadn’t put enough into our training facilities to allow for all of our would-be athletes to reach their potential, or we’d let our best coaches go overseas for better money.
The statistic was pointed out by Paul Kent -- that athletes from other countries, who were trained by Australian coaches, won 14 gold medals – twice of Australia’s total gold medals.
“If we had put more money into sport we would be doing better,” some have said.
Now there has to be some control to this theory. I’m sure that money factors in some way, as without coaching or facilities, an athlete is at a disadvantage, but where exactly does that impact start and stop? Surely there is a limit to what an excellent coach can achieve in a person.
Surely the absolute fastest men from over two hundred countries distilled down to eight competitors in the 100m final (and even then, only four countries were represented), the difference between their final times cannot be significantly altered by coaching.
Perhaps we are in denial of the limits that we have. As technology accelerates so rapidly through the smart phone evolution, Google’s prospective glasses and self-driving car, and the “Curiosity Rover” landing on Mars; it’s easy to forget that in over a hundred and twenty years, we’ve only taken 1.2 seconds off the 100m world record. It’s easy to forget that despite the grandeur of the Olympic Games with all its collective skill and athleticism that we are still very finite and contained.
It’s curious therefore that the world hated the one man who was limitless. Perhaps his power made them jealous, or the stark comparison with their own limitations enraged them, broke them. The cold-water realization that they are not what He is.
The limitless man offers freedom to the world, but at the cost of humbly admitting its inadequacy. And in that face of our marginal sporting improvements over hundreds of years you can either point the finger at funding or hear the quiet call in the background to realize our constraints. Jesus’ statement: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” is an invitation to participate in His reality, not a gloating reminder of our ineptitude.
Sam Manchester is a Sociology graduate from The University of Sydney, currently working in a cafe and studying theology. Sam's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-manchester.html
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.