One of the more pervasive and frustrating aspects of contemporary life for me personally, and it appears for many other people as well, is the unmet hunger for genuine competition that exists in so many areas of life. As a somewhat competitive person (understanding things a bit), I tend to be naturally drawn to human endeavors that involve competition for honors and prizes, and find myself increasingly frustrated by how stage-managed and fake so many of these competitions are. Whatever transient glory exists in winning earthly prizes like sports games and topping music charts and winning elections–and it must be readily admitted that all such earthly awards are transient and without ultimate purpose–no glory exists whatsoever in winning competitions that are rigged in your favor. When Roman emperors “competed” in various sporting and cultural events and won because the people in charge of such events wanted to live and not die horrific and gruesome deaths, no one with two brain cells could doubt that the competition was rigged for political ends. All too often, contemporary competition has the same stench lingering to it.
Why is this the case? What is the benefit of making it appear as if there is genuine competition while denying the reality of it through various means of fixing the outcome? By and large, institutions depend on there being a sense of legitimacy for their power. To the extent that people lose faith in genuine competition within institutions, those institutions lose popular support and people in general cease to have interest in them because there is no point in being interested in such things for their entertainment value alone. This decline in interests is very costly to such institutions, for it is the eyeballs watching a sporting event that allow it to make a lot of advertising revenue and that also provide it with cultural influence–if people do not care to watch what they do not trust is a fair competition, then the institution itself ceases to profit accordingly. Therefore, even when events are stage managed for the benefit of insiders who can profit off of making bets to the disadvantage of causal outsiders who are not aware of the predetermined outcome, the appearance of competition must always exist, and it is a sign of the incompetence of those who seek to fix our society’s institutions for their own benefit that it is increasingly obvious how much genuine competition is lacking and enforcement is increasingly one-sided to lead to a predetermined outcome that is not in the interests of the vast majority of those who care about competitions.
There is a delicate art to stage management. The better one is at managing competition for desired ends, the less obvious and less obtrusive such management efforts are. It is unmistakably obvious if one schedules an election and the winning party in a divided state wins by a nearly unanimous vote. Perhaps such management may communicate obviously to others that it is pointless to even attempt to compete, but that drives opposition to more violent and less easily controlled resistance to the ruling regime and can easily backfire. It is far more compelling drama if a managed election manages to be close enough to provide some hope of victory for the opposition but that allows for the majority to still hold on to power, as that hope in institutions is a critical currency that prevents opposition from becoming too violent and too despairing of victory through electoral means. A similar aptitude for dramatic tension makes a game more compelling if it is closely won than if it is stage managed to the point where one team simply cannot manage any sort of success whatsoever, as a lack of drama in the game leads predictably to a lack of interest in watching it. Yet if the desired victory is the result of stage management that is too obvious, with too biased of calls and non-calls, and too incompetent a management of the flow of the game, by giving a team extra chances to win that make no sense, for example, cynicism of the game spreads, to the detriment of popularity and respect and legitimacy.
Given the lack of competence of those who seek to manage competition in the contemporary world–which they manage as incompetently as they manage anything else–it remains at least somewhat a mystery as to why they seek to manage the results at all? Why devote oneself to the lie, and hurt the popularity and respect of institutions by showing how shoddily fairness is maintained in the running of competitive events, and not try to get better at providing a forum for genuine competition. I cannot be the only one who has an immense unmet hunger for genuine competition nowadays, given the widespread anger that exists over the fraudulent and rigged nature of so much of it in the present world, after all. What is the fear over genuine competition that exists? What is so hard about setting up as far as possible an arena for competition, resolving to be as fair and just as possible, and letting the chips fall where they may? What is so unacceptable about seeking genuine competition and in promoting it as an antidote to so much that exists here and now?