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Column: Comparisons isn’t always for the best

Comparisons and competition.

Our society thrives on competition — it gives us the ability to measure ourselves and to make ourselves better.

It’s what makes money for many great non-profit organizations like the NFL, FIFA and the NCAA.

However, the problem with competition is that it tends to lead us to compare ourselves with others.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or that I’m starting to take heart what I’m learning in martial arts. I’m taught not to compare my ability or achievements against the ability and the achievements of others, but myself.

That’s a huge relief for me. Right now, I’m in a class with about 15-20 kids (there might be four other adults close to my rank). I can’t compare myself to them. They’re faster, more agile and resilient.

If I have anything to move myself ahead of them it’s that I work smarter and study the techniques we’re taught — not just repeat the techniques.

I did use to compare myself to others, but only to find that one person who may be doing worse than me, so that I can feel better about myself. But that didn’t help me all that much, I didn’t push myself harder and my training stagnated.

I think coaches try to teach this to the kids as well: Did we improve today? Have I learned more today? Did I get better in my role?

Because of parity, teams don’t exactly match up on the high school and junior high levels. So, the team that improves on a daily basis, week to week, will get better. Even the teams that win by 20 to 40 points have to get better each day and each week.

Now, I’ve said all that to get to this: Comparing our own achievement against our own ability is good. However, when folks tend to take it upon themselves sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned room or taking up the guise of an armchair warrior to compare others to other people, things or events. That’s when things tend to go sideways.

Perhaps the biggest and most glaring example of these is comparing men to women. Not just any simple comparison, but rather saying the inferior attributes of a man is about the same as the normal or typical attribute of a woman.

I’m guessing that’s supposed to be an insult to the man. However, what does that make the speaker think about women in general?

It’s not just in sports, it’s pervasive in popular culture.

You hit like a girl. You act like a girl. Quit crying like a girl. You throw like a girl. You run like a girl.

Very rarely do you see the opposite happen. I’m trying to think of examples in which the opposite is true. That it’s an insult to refer to a girl like a boy.

You hit like a boy. You act like a boy. (Boys don’t cry, right?). You throw like a boy. You run like a boy.

It seems that our society will treat those as compliments.

There are even more demeaning and crass sayings in regards to women than I can publish here. Well, I could publish here, but it may very well be the last thing I would get to publish.

I’m not saying that folks should never, ever say those sort of things again. Just don’t be surprised if I respond by calling you out.