Monday, August 20, 2012

King of the Hill

"My best guess is that it's all about the quintessentially American obsession with glory, however fleeting. Everyone wants to be the king of the hill. That's international. But the number of aspiring kings always dwarfs the number of available hills. So in this country, we build more hills. We're geniuses, in fact, at building more hills.

We've got a league for everything, including underwater hockey and lawn mower racing. That's dB drag racing. It's utterly pointless. A car stereo competition with cars you can't drive and stereos you can't listen to. Until you realize that it allows a group of people to call themselves the best in the world at something." - This American Life, Auto Show
Now that the Olympics are over with and the world  race walking champions have been crowned, I have to start wondering what these athletes are going to go on and do for the rest of their lives. Some have a bit left in them. They are young. I am sure we will be hearing about people like McKayla Maroney and how she is not impressed for a few more Olympic cycles. But what about Michael Phelps? Someone who has won more gold medals than anyone else, but doesn't really have any other employable skills? 
Okay... okay... he will probably have sponsorship for the foreseeable future and become a trainer for the next generation after that. But he is just one person. What about those who were unable to win a medal at all? What about in obscure sports where even the medalists have a hard time finding employment afterwards? Even those who do strike it rich for instance, like NFL athletes, and then go broke after they stop playing. No employable skills takes its toll over time.
This is why I am happy about not being a child-star or an athlete, the better days of my life are ahead of me and not behind. I one day will find my hill and become king of it, too. But I will do it on something useful to society. A hill where people strive to make the world a better place. Not just have the most powerful car stereo system in a car that can not drive and a stereo system that can not play music.
(Note: It almost seems that Olympic athletes are like philosophy PhDs. Their only purpose in life is to train the next generation; except that Olympic athletes have a temporary moment in the sun. A fleeting one. That's more than can be said for Philosophy PhD's.)

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