Above is a picture of my sister playing field hockey at her club team tournament that took place in Arizona over Thanksgiving break this year. She wears her captain band around her shin guard and is looking to do a pull move to thwart the defender who tries to steal the ball from her.
What strikes me the most is how confident she looks. Her muscles look strong and lean, she has composure with her dribble, and her hair is so tightly pulled off from her face with a headband and a braid. She looks serious. And it is not just that she looks serious in this moment, but you can tell that she has treated camps, preseason, school field hockey, and club practice all with the same amount of importance in order to get to this tournament.
I never looked this way when I played field hockey during high school. I figured out that my talents lie elsewhere and so I take pictures from the sidelines.
In Georges Perec’s book he includes a novel about the island, W where, “The survival of the fittest is the law of this land; yet the struggle itself is nothing, for it is not Sport for Sport’s sake, achievement for the sake of achievement, which motivates the men of W, but thirst for victory, victory at any price” (Perec 89). And it made me think back to the nature of sports themselves. I’m not sure that Sport can really exist for Sport’s sake or that achievement can exist for achievement’s sake. The only thing you can ultimately achieve in sports is the victory, and any other minor achievement is minor on the way to a win (improvements to become a better player hopefully lead to victory).
The people who play sports, ultimately become a self-selecting group because people don’t just participate in sports for the participation, they participate to win. It happened with my sister and me. I never played on as many teams as she did and I quit as soon as my senior season is over. She however plays on three teams a year and hopes to play in college someday. Athletes continue with their efforts, only because they still have a chance to achieve victory. Victory is the only and ultimate goal.