Last Friday, I sat in the middle of a dusty soccer field on a swelteringly hot day in mid-May. I had just finished my second to last high school track race ever and was reflecting on some of the memories I have from the sport, when it hit me. I believe in the need for competition.
When you are six laps into an eight-lap race, your whole body hurts and your legs want to stop listening to your brains signal to keep moving. What keeps you moving though? If you’re by yourself with nobody in sight in either direction, exhaustion overcomes you and your pace gradually diminishes. If one of you competitors comes up on your right and attempts to pass you, something happens in your brain. Adrenaline is pumped out and somehow all the pain you were previously felt vanishes into thin air. You run faster and faster, constantly unaware of your legs screaming in agony as your pace quickens trying to avoid the pass from your competition.
This same concept can be applied to regular life, at school for example. By your junior year in high school, your grade point average if fairly solid and it will not swing greatly in either direction. Going into senior year, I knew my GPA was ample to receive acceptance from the college of my choice and even if it dropped significantly I would still get in. What kept me going? My friend’s grades kept me going. Although we don’t act like we’re competing, I know it is in the back of all of our minds that we need to try to beat each other on every test we take. This competition that isn’t even spoken of helped to keep my grades high and indirectly helped me receive acceptance into college.
Competition also drives the American economy. Store owners and managers know that if their prices go too high or their products quality drops, people won’t come in to their store and eventually they will have to close. When you are driving through the desert and you pass by a gas station, the prices are always way higher than the national average. That store owner knows that he or she can raise prices as high as they want and the desperate motorists teetering on the edge of running out of fuel will pay whatever they have to avoid the hassle of calling for help. When the rival gas station opens up across the street, prices fall in hopes that they can get the most customers. This competition for our dollar keeps prices low and quality high.
I believe in competition. It drives us all. It keeps our minds focused on a common goal and helps us push our way through the hard time we all experience in life. Without it acting as a constant driving force, our world would be a completely different place.
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