An alternative meaning to excellence
In his “Being a Woman and Other Disabilities”, Professor LaVaque-Manty talks a lot about the “relatively straightforward” and “reasonably clear measures” of excellence. He goes on to discuss how not everyone plays sports to try to for excellence, but that people play for recreation. Is this to assume that playing for “health, to raise funds for a charity, to have fun with friends” is not in their own ways altered versions of excellence? What is excellence? I believe it is in the eye of the beholder.
If put on the spot to think of an immediate definition, one will most likely think of excellence as possessing a skill. I will argue that it can have a more general meaning. Just as each person defines what he or she believes to be beautiful, I think people have the ability to define what excellence means to them.
Regarding sports, as Professor LaVaque-Manty mentions, there are many different levels. There is intramural, high school, college, and professional. Each of these levels mean different things to different people. For a child, intramural sports can mean a way of making new friends. High school sports can be an activity to take up time. College sports can be one person’s only way of paying for an education. Finally, professional sports can be simply a way of making money. One definition of excellence says, “an action, characteristic, feature, etc, in which a person excels” (dictionary.com). Excelling at something can mean a high level of achievement at what one is intending to do. Therefore, excellence at each of these levels can simply mean achieving the desired result of why a person is playing the sport. If a child sets out to play a sport to make friends and actually makes many new friends, doesn’t that mean he is excelling? Furthermore, if he is excelling then he is experiencing excellence.
It seems to me that the media puts pressure on society to look at rankings. As is evident, exceptional skill is not the only form of excellence. One question remains: how can we get others to see that excellence does not only apply to physical skill?