by Stuart H. Walker
Illustrated by Thomas C. Price
Signed by the Author
The premise of Stuart Walker’s new book The Code of Competition is that competitors – all competitors – are compliant with an inherited, altruistic Code and, as a consequence, regularly act in opposition to their conscious interests. It draws evidence from anthropology, history and philosophy as well as the author’s personal experience to support this thesis.
Compliance with the Code creates the camaraderie, the pleasant ambience, the good fellowship that causes sport to be so attractive to so many. It accounts for the willingness of one competitor to assist another in his acquisition of competence, for the distress a competitor feels when his opponent is adversely affected, for the universal support of the underdog and for everyone’s admiration – and resentment – of the winner.
But it also causes competitors to accept being controlled, to acquiesce in being beaten, to restrain their aggressiveness and to be embarrassed by winning. It promotes the belief that deservedness should determine results, that pre-existing rankings should be accepted, that success should engender guilt and that the more aggressive should dominate.
The book is both a revelation of the author’s love for his sport and an incisive expose’ of the fears, resentments and irrational drives that motivate his competitors and that account for their pecking orders, choking, belief in momentum, feelings of pressure and acceptance of losing.
The wide applicability of these assertions is demonstrated by anecdotes from the author’s personal experience as a racing sailor as well as by anecdotes concerning golfers, tennis players, runners and other amateur and professional athletes.