“Nice guys. Finish last”, is attributed to Leo Durocher and us the title of a book he authored. It was originally spoken about a team he was playing against in baseball. In his book he talks of breaking rules in order to win the game. The object is to win in whatever manner available.
More recent sports quotes on the subject come from NASCAR with the saying, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Recent NCAA investigations reveal the desire to win overshadowing integrity in College athletics. Performance enhancing drugs, altered equipment and the list goes on of ways to get around or bend the rules.
It seems winning is everything has taken on a new dimension. Last night on one of the reality TV shows, Survivor, Boston Rob was praised for playing the perfect game. In it he controlled and manipulated, lied and deceived, made friendships on the surface while plotting to stab his friend in the back.
Shakespeare wrote of Caesar’s last words translated in Latin as,” et tu Brute”, meaning “even you Brutus” to refer to the ultimate and mortal betrayal of Julius Caesar. So I guess it should come as no surprise when cheating to win is the order of the day. The goal of Survivor on Television is to outwit, outplay, outlast. From Wall Street to Morven Road, to every path and byway on the globe bending, breaking the rules to get head in the get more game some call life. Have we fallen so far from Eden that playing the perfect game is to play a game of deceit, manipulation, lies and cheating?
In the story of Eden the serpent was portrayed as the deceiver, manipulator, and liar. He was not praised for his cunning but banished for his tactics. He was seen as the lowest of the lows and his posture in life reflected this status. He did not win a million dollars but a reputation of infamy. Bernie Madoff went to jail for his deception. Boston Rob got a million dollars. He defended his actions by showing off his wife and two children. He did it for them, so he claims. So did Madoff. But I wonder if 117 days “playing the game”, could 10 years of on and off again on Survivor which he said was a third of his life, easily translate in life beyond a deserted island. Or did he bring those skills with him when he landed? I have heard it said and found it to be true that you can learn a lot about someone when you play a round of golf with them. You can. Like any other game, even the game called life, if win at all costs; by hook or by crook, then it seems we have a bunch of losers at the top of the heap.
They keep score by how much and how often but not by how. How doesn’t matter- to the cheater winners. Maybe that is why the quote from Grantland Rice still strikes a chord, “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game.” Or from The Bible, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (The Message) Or lose one’s soul while gaining everything this world has to offer? I am afraid Survivor is a good commentary on the world in which we live and the depravity of the human condition.
What if we chose not to play or do business with those who cheat, lie and deceive? What if we said, “If that is the way you want to play, count me out?” What if how the game was played was more important than anything else? What if the Great Scorer really is keeping score and the only score kept is how we play the game?
n Rob Rollins lives in Wadesboro.