Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shortcuts To Success

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How We Delude Ourselves That We Can Get Away

For Ben, the world is his oyster. When he breasts the finishing mark in the 100 meter sprint in the 1987 World Championships in Athletics held in Rome, the entire world rises as one to applaud. His 9.83 seconds is a new world record. People fall over each other to felicitate the new celebrity, and shower him with trophies, awards and felicitations. He is made the "Member of the Order of Canada".

Member of the Order of Canada

September 24, 1988 is a historic moment for Ben. Under the warm Seoul sun, this Ontarian sets the Jamsil Stadium track on fire with his "benfastic" 9.79 seconds performance.

Jamsil Stadium

Three days later, his story hit its peripety. Ben is stripped of all honors. The reason: he was discovered to be taking shortcuts to success. "Why Ben? Why? Why did you do it?" I wonder if the scrapbook in Ben's library contains this newspaper headline also, along with all the other headline-cuttings of all the honors that had come his way.

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Cut to December 13, 2007. In a 409-page report released by George Mitchell, a finger points to 88 Major League Baseball players, accusing them of using steroids or drugs to artificially boost their body's capability and hit the ball harder, run quicker from one base to the other, or pitch it faster than normally possible.

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Man just doesn't learn from history, does he? Shortcuts to success ultimately end in humiliation and ignominy, the exact opposite of the adulation and honor that was being sought. Was it not possible for these gentlemen to give some extra workouts at their training sessions and imbibe some additional discipline to build stamina and take the highway route to whatever success they aspired to?

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At what cost, success?

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