There’s a chap who’s good at growing carrots and other vegetables. He enters them in competitions, and year after year he has won. Now the organisers of the competitions have asked him not to enter any more because his repeated successes are deterring others from entering. He can’t understand why they want to stop him from entering. After all, he declared, “it’s a competition.”
Can a person win too often?
It reminded me of a fellow who was good at public speaking. As a member of Toastmasters International, the speakers’ club, he entered the various speech contests each year, and kept winning. One day he didn’t even place in a speech contest in which he was clearly the best. Even two visitors from North America told him, “You should have won. You were the best.”
It turns out that some people thought it was ‘time to give others a chance. He keeps winning and others don’t get a chance.’ What they were saying was that it was a given that he was the best, so there was no need to go on awarding him the prize. They decided to vote for the best of the rest. What a strange approach to a competition!
So whether you produce the finest carrots or the best speech, you could come up against the cult of the amateur, the misdirected sense of sharing the honours. Could you see that working at the Olympics?