What competition misses

If I find out that a nationally-ranked field hockey team trains on Christmas Eve, I’m going to feel pressured to make Fredonia’s field hockey team train on Christmas Eve.

If I find out that Oneonta contributes X dollars to its athletic department, and Fredonia contributes X – 1 dollars to its, I’m going to feel pressured to contribute an extra dollar to keep up with Oneonta.

I’m pressured to put my resources–time and money–towards short-term, finite games (winning and status), at the potential expense of long-term, infinite games (education and family).

The NCAA says, “Here are the games; here are the rules; play if you wish,” and we all come away thinking life is a big competition. We cherry pick quotes from Darwin to support our intuitions.

But notice that if I gain wealth, you’re more likely to gain wealth; notice that if I learn statistics I can then teach you statistics; notice that everyone benefited when Bill Gates learned to write code.

We’re taught from a young age that life is a competition, and it is.

It also isn’t.