“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend throughout the sports world of comparisons being drawn between teams, eras, or individual players. I suppose that it has always really existed, but recently, it seems that it becomes a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. I can recall countless debates and lists that I have had and/or made with my friends stating a case for one group of players over others. We discuss cases for the Hall of Fame, teams who have the best offense, defense, or pitching rotation, lists for all time teams in MLB history or an individual franchise, or lineup decisions. Inevitably, the conversation would turn to everyone’s individual opinions about why they like their player over someone else’s with some statistic to help them fit the context of the argument.
Lately, the newest argument that has encapsulated the World Wide Leader has been the discussion of who will be the greatest NBA basketball player of all-time: Michael Jordan or LeBron James (or, perhaps someone else even)? If I was legitimately posing this question to the masses (which I am not), you would see such a wide ranging set of responses that would stretch from rational to absurd reasons.
Perhaps, the most frustrating of these “explanations” would be the commenter who simply says, “X person sucks. Y person is the best!” No rationale, no justifications, no real added value.
However, my real concern stems from why these comparisons are even necessary. Why do we have to know if LeBron is better than Kobe or Trout is better than Harper? What does it matter? Are we solving anything? Are we helping anything? Within these frameworks of comparison, I believe we really lose a genuine appreciation for what these guys do and bring to the table no matter their place in the history of the game.
We start to watch a game and see something pretty incredible occur, yet detractors or fans of another player are quick to point out a flaw or state their case for why their player could do all that and more. We start looking for reasons to insult and devalue players, instead of just appreciating the work that they do and who they are.
This inner turmoil will manifest itself on a team that is not cohesive and willing to accept roles. Players will begin to complain that they do not get enough innings, the ball is not in their hands enough, or coaches are not giving them enough opportunities to succeed or be the star. Players will start to draw comparisons between their teammates and find reasons to bring them down to make them look better because they have a personal agenda. These players fail to appreciate the team as a whole and the joy that comes from being a great teammate in achieving a unified goal.
This comparison framework is not limited to sports alone by any means. Society does more than its fair share of comparison in all aspects. People are always striving to be better than someone else or compare themselves to others in an effort to lift themselves up or pull others down. In the workplace, people will talk good about themselves or bad about someone else in an effort to make themselves look better for a potential promotion. People will embellish numbers, manipulate relationships, or root for others to fail to make themselves or a previous colleague look better. Comparisons generally adopt a “win at all costs” mentality.
What we lose with this mindset is the pure joy and appreciation for a skilled and competitive performance. We lose the camaraderie and unity that comes for striving together for a common goal whether that be a championship or completion of a project. We lose the ability to appreciate people for who they are and what they are trying to make of themselves and instead try to see them as what we want them to be for us. Most importantly, we lose the ability to see ourselves for who we are and appreciate that because we expose every single failure, fault, or blemish as taking away from us and making us less like those to whom we compare ourselves.
My challenge for you today is to stop with the comparisons. Seek to find a true appreciation for who we are, who we know, and what we witness on a daily basis.
You are a great person. You have your own individuality and your own purpose in this world. You are who you are and you do not need to be anyone or anything different to be beautiful, successful, and empowered. So just take you and become the best version of you that you can possibly be.
Bring your best today!