It Is Not Important to Win, but to Participate… Or Not?

In order to win, you do have to participate.
Irene Schiff

Equal sports stadiums, championships, Olympics, also pitches outside the house, youth tournaments, young ones in their first contact with a ball, a net, friends and opponents. Sport means cheering, in stadiums or on the couch, in sports clubs or bars. Sport means participation, elimination, victory. Is victory one of the goals or is it the only goal? Does the famous quote by De Coubertin ("The important thing is not to win but to participate") still make sense? How important is it to know how to participate, in sport and in life? Are we capable? What are we willing to do to participate in harmony or to excel? Participation and victory are concepts that are not limited only to sport but are also valid in every day, social and professional life. Participation can consist in being there, being active, cooperating, guiding, excelling in various ways. This bears different psychological values and is not always easy, indeed it is not at all easy to know how to be together. And not just for us mere mortals. Even the gods had problems acting together and yet they did lose and won and were still together, participating and sharing with one another. Ulysses himself had some "sponsor" gods as well as adversaries. Is victory over others? Yes, it is, but it is over ourselves before anything else.


We fight against time, space, we fight for winning the opposing camp and in particular against the symbolic place of the "enemy" territory like a net or a basket. But one needs to participate even alone, we participate with ourselves, with our own emotions, fears, pleasures. The first act of participation and the first victory is always with and over our own self.



1) Why did violinist Paganini not play encores?

a) as a true Genoese, he saved

b) he was an extravagant genius

c) he was in a hurry to go back home


2) When you get upset, you

a) speak about it with friends

b) keep it all bottled up

c) think about revenge


3) In a society game

a) in order to win, you cheat

b) the important thing is to have fun

c) you get involved to the fullest


4) One of your friends was promoted, you

a) go out for a drink

b) ask your friend for a reference

c) are envious


5) Your partner is interested in someone else

a) you are also interested in another person

b) you ask for explanations

c) there is nothing to worry about


6) You did something wrong, you think

a) it can happen

b) what did I do wrong?

c) even others make mistakes


7) Together with others, you are stranded in a remote island, what role do you play

a) you let others decide

b) do a little of everything

c) you keep food supplies so everyone depends on you


8) You prefer a group of people

a) who are better than you; it stimulates you

b) who are like you, relaxed

c) who are inferior to you; you can excel


9) Between people, fairness

a) is only rhetoric

b) is always correct

c) is correct only when you already know that you will be better


10) You met friendly people on vacation, you

a) contact them

b) hope they contact you

c) don't think about them anymore


11) In front of a mountain, you think

a) I would like to reach the top

b) I want to reach the top

c) what a beautiful hike this could be


12) Being the centre of attention

a) is important

b) can be pleasant

c) is tiring


13) If you were a place to eat, you would be

a) a French restaurant

b) an alpine refuge

c) a home-style restaurant


14) Time flies. You think, it's time to

a) devote myself to my free time

b) commit myself more

c) slow down the pace


15) Whoever comes second is

a) the first of the losers

b) better than the third

c) among the best




Question A B C

1) 2 3 1

2) 1 2 3

3) 3 1 2

4) 1 2 3

5) 2 3 1

6) 2 3 1

7) 1 2 3

8) 3 2 1

9) 1 2 3

10) 3 2 1

11) 2 3 1

12) 3 2 1

13) 2 3 2

14) 2 3 2

15) 3 1 2







What you want is to be first, to have no limits and, if there were, you like reaching and overcoming them. You can be competitive and surpass yourself realizing that you have increased your physical and mental strength. It's important to remember that other people exist and that they probably contributed to your victory. The true winner is the one who, despite being the first, has respect for others.




To participate means taking part, acting, and contributing in any way. You can accept responsibility but you don't like to impose on others and you prefer that others recognize your potential. You alternate between moments of playfulness and moments where you understand that seriousness is in order. You can call on others to commit themselves and you know how to do it.




You don't aspire to the role of the main actor or, perhaps, you don't have the confidence that you could. The group makes you feel protected, you like the company but leave the initiatives to others. You are fine with others and they're fine with you but, if only you wanted it, you could do more. Spending an evening out for dinner is fine, but next time you can choose the restaurant.

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