Competition v Participation

A few days ago I wrote a status on Facebook about elitism in Powerlifting from some who say “don’t participate if you don’t try to win”.

My status read:

The best thing about PL is the potential growth and ease of entry into the sport.

Anyone can compete. Anyone.

Some people are like “why compete if you don’t think you can win?”

Shut the fuck up and don’t stifle growth of a sport that you participate in.

Thousands of people participate knowing they won’t win. It’s called having fun.

Wanting to win is great. If you compete solely to win, get after that shit but who the hell are you to look down on anyone who chooses to compete for themselves?

This sport is rapidly leaving behind the bitter social misfit and a new breed of lifter is rising up. It’s changing before your very eyes and not everyone likes that.

Tough shit. It’s fun for them, and it’s fun to watch it grow.

There is a difference between a competitor and a participant when it comes to a strength sport, or even bodybuilding. Competitors want to win, they train to win, they do what it takes to ensure they will place as high as they can, and their sole purpose for competing is to win.

I love that.

I love to see people go after what they want. When I played rugby I was as competitive as anyone. When I competed in strongman I played to win. There is a level of respect I have for the competitor because of their focus on being the best. It truly takes a lot of time and effort to train for a sport or strength sport.

There is the flipside of it.

The participant.

The participant, in strength sports, competes for themselves. They aren’t taking up any “space” on a team away from someone who plays to win. It is all on them. Same with bodybuilding. I have trained bodybuilders who want to win trophies, and I trained some who use the stage as motivation to get back into condition. Both of those types have brought their best package to the stage, one of them wanted a trophy, one of them doesn’t care.

Both of them worked just as hard, ate the same restrictive diet, and prepped in the same type of way but their goals were different. One was externally driven, one was internally driven.

Powerlifting is similar.

One lifter will show up to win a trophy, one lifter will show up to lift more than they did last night knowing full well they have no shot to ever win. Local meets are filled with lifters like the latter. Those lifters compete for themselves, for the fun of it, for self-improvement, and for the camaraderie they experience at PL meets.

The one who wants to win is affected not one bit by the participant. Their performance and “game play” has no bearing on what they do on the platform. This is an individual sport, and your goals are uniquely your own.

Strength sports/bodybuilding aren’t team sports. In a team sport if you don’t want to win, get off the team, you will bring down your teammates because of your unwillingness to accept the task at hand.

In a strength sport, it is ultimately about your goals and your outcome.

Competitor or participant. Both get my respect because both are up on the stage/platform doing their best for their own reasons. Both of them still go through the motions in their prep to bring their best package to the competition. Both of them are showing what they got in front of a crowd and judges.

Regardless of the motivation, the effort is the same.

I love both.

For the competitor – keep winning and keep going after it.

For the participant – keep doing your best, and bringing your best.

For the people who don’t compete – what are you waiting for? Find a 5k, find a local PL meet, find a CrossFit event, sign up for a local bodybuilding show, go after it and use that for training motivation. You may find you are the one who wants to win, or you may find you are the one who wants to use it for self-motivation.

In either case, do your best, bring your best, and have fun.


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