Driving towards the city, I decided to pass by the South Road Properties (SRP). What blessing has this alternative route given to the residents of Cebu! It has not only eased traffic but it has also provided a faster means of travel towards the south. With its spacious lanes, one is really tempted to go full speed. In fact, at that particular instant, I was witnessing to what seems to be an exhibition show. A big motorcycle drove past by me from behind with unbelievable speed. It must have accelerated with a 150-per-kilometer velocity. The cyclist was in full safety gear with his helmet and padding. But what caught my attention was that he was standing on the footrest of his motor in that speed! I was sure the eyes of many motorist on SRP were trained on him as he cruised his way in style. I also wondered how he could put his life in jeopardy and those around him on the road by such acrobatics. Was he in haste for an important appointment or was he just looking for applause?
Applause is a strong motivational factor. Fame and glory could be everything for some people. Spain just won its first-ever World Cup title against Netherlands. It was such a coveted, hard-earned victory. Emotions run high already during the semi-finals when Spain beat a disciplined and methodic German team as correctly predicted by “Paul the Octopus.” The win brought ecstatic jubilation among Spaniards but tears in the German soil. Who could have thought that the finals would be a showdown between two European teams both hungry for a world title on their sleeves. Despite their legendary status as football superpowers, both have never won the World Cup. Who could have thought that the favorites and dominant nations like Brazil, Argentina, France or Italy would make an early exit to their shame. Now with this victory, Spain has finally flexed its might over the rest of the world to erase its moniker as “perennial underachievers.”
I had to wake up at 2:00 AM to watch this historic match. As usual the game started with much excitement and anticipation. But as the game progressed, with more fouls than goals, the spectators became bored. Yet it was a joy to watch the Spanish team with its precise passing, superb technical skills and artful team movement. Netherlands had to get nasty to win at all cost. Finally came a brilliant moment for Andres Iniesta’s extra-time goal that meant so much for the Spanish team as he smashed a shot to seal the victory. And as the winning team was handed with the prestigious cup of gold at the end of the tournament in the world’s biggest stage, their faces were all painted with glory. All applause for Spain! Only heartbreak for the Netherlands who will have to wait for many more years to touch the golden cup.
Sports is, often times, about applause. Be it football, basketball, boxing, golf, tennis or billiard. Athletes who win, gain all the fame. They are catapulted into the limelight and enjoy the cheers of the adoring crowd. They are placed on pedestals and raised as icons to be imitated. Endorsements are offered to them and soon billboards fill the cities with their faces and fanciful postures. All hard work and discipline are focused on the outcome of the game. Only winners get all the applause. Recently, basketball star Lebron James surprised the Cleveland Cavaliers by choosing to stay with the Miami Heat to join forces with former Olympic teammates in Beijing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This move would lose James more than S30 million but will bring him closer to a championship ring. “It’s going to give me the best opportunity to win” he said. “Winning is a huge thing for me!”
Yet life is not all about applause. Winning is not everything. Also losing has its own painful purpose with a lesson to give. The sun continues to shine long after the loss. Honors fade. Even fame is fleeting. Life’s purpose is not really about getting recognitions and achievements for ourselves. In Ecclesiastes 2:11 we read: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” When all we do is simply to amass fame, honor and glory for ourselves, we have lived in vain. Thus the sacred writer who penned Psalm 115 cried out: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to your name be the glory. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s motto is enlightening: “For the greater glory of God.” Thus in our winning, losing and trying we strive to seek, not man’s empty applause, but God’s affirming approval.