This post is dedicated to Diane Ablonczy: We had a good discussion at breakfast about fair play and so on. When you're at big tournaments like this you find behaviour that's not exactly sporting. Sometimes it's the competitors, sometimes the coaches, sometimes the parents.
I don't like it. I like playing fair. And a friend commented that we were nice and polite. And I thought, no, not quite.
I'm not nice. I mean, I can be. But I don't consider myself especially nice. Certainly not when I'm in a ring actively trying to punch someone in the face or kick them in the ribs. I'm also not particularly polite. I like to think I have good manners but nothing special.
What I am, though, is straight. And that comes from my understanding of and respect for the rule of law. (Yay! I knew law school would be useful!)
See, in a free and orderly society, the rules apply equally to everyone. And everyone (well, OK, there are exceptions, and when they get caught they get punished) respects the rules because if we start allowing some people not to respect the rules then there are no rules and soon enough there is no freedom either. (See history of the world.)
I don't fear tyranny at karate tournaments. But that's no reason not to respect the rules - the rules of the game, along with the rules of proper sporting behaviour. If people don't respect the rules, your fighting quickly turns into a brawl, and in my book there's no glory in winning a brawl.
So I play fair, and do my very best to show respect for my opponents, even the ones who hit me in the face after the ref yells STOP. I don't think that makes me a sucker. I think that makes me a straight arrow. And when I do win, I like the fact that my medals feel clean around my neck.
That to me is the point of competition. Not just to win, but to win right. Winning isn't everything. Being a winner is.