Humans know mainly two ways of interacting : competition and cooperation*. Both exist since the onset of Life on Earth, none of them is due to disappear, they are a necessary expression of life and not mutually exclusive. Competition drives evolution through the incentive to go beyond and do better. Cooperation allows groups of individuals to achieve what no individual alone can achieve – and are the basis of the idea of democracy. In contrast, highly competitive, “winner takes all” mentality can lead to aggression, conflict, autocratic regimes and wars.
Both competition and cooperation are necessary, but today the emphasis, at school and in sports, is clearly on competition. In most schools, children are pushed to compete from an early age and are punished for helping each other during tests for instance. In sports, the most regarded events are the World Cup, the World Championships and the Olympic Games, the paragon of competition. For sure, there are elements of cooperation in them as well – team sports, famous instances of athletes giving up their medals to help a fellow competitor, and the joint cooperation necessary for the organisation of the games themselves. But even on that level, fierce competition is the rule. Nations compete with each other to get the event organised on their soil. And they bear most of the burden of the organisation, alone. In the same way, teams cooperate within themselves, but they fiercely compete with the other nation’s team. Nations compete with each other, men and women are mostly segregated from one another, as are ages, and “valid” and handicapped people in parallel games.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and we can create a model that valorises cooperation and inclusion instead, on all levels. From the very organisation, to the content of the games.
To some people, sports has been so much associated with competition that they struggle to think of a non competitive one. At least, one that could be played in a stadium and draw a wide audience.
We believe shifting the focus and the world emphasis from competition to the beauty of cooperation can open up a new world for the world itself. We believe the masses cannot be swayed by a rational argument, but they can by a compelling show. We believe in educating by example.
Join us on the CoOlympian🤸♀️Games! project!
*It is of course, in fact, less clear-cut. Greek languages, for instance, recognises antagonism (ανταγωνισμός), synagonism (συναγωνισμός) –which could be loosely rendered as “positive emulation” – and synergy.