Is 'Last' Place Any Place At All?
SAM BRADFORD quarterback, St. Louis Rams, of the NFL, was once dubbed 'Most Disappointing' draft pick of 2009. At the University of Oklahoma, Bradford was known as an all-around superstar on the gridiron. A stand-out. Even collegiate, super-talented athletes can be considered losers when put in strange atmospheres of competition.
To Everyone Who Has Trained So Hard That You Almost Dropped From Exhaustion, Visited The Gym So Much To Get Into Shape That You And The Gym Owner Are On First-Name Basis, You Ran So Many Miles To Condition Yourself For The Marathon, That People Called You "Super Shoes," And All Of Your Training, Sacrifice, And Dedication Only Allowed You To Finish In Last Place, Well, Take Heart, This Story Is Just For You!
Over the course of my life I've heard it all. "Do your best," "Hang in there," "Give it your best shot," all the statements, motivational charges, verbal confidence builders. I have heard them from others. Heard other people hear virtually the same things, and still, after the race, or spirited contest, last place was there. Waiting, smiling, holding its arms out for people like me and countless others who tried their best. Put their heart into the competition and soon realized that last place is not a great place to be.
Last place, my friend, bites. Stings. Humiliates. Degrades. Disassociates what were once level-headed, sensible men and women, boys and girls, into nothing more than place-fillers. You've head the old cop-out, feel-good-about-losing slang, "Somebody has to be last. Might as well be you." I cannot tell you in mortal words just how much I loathe that phrase. And all like it that came before it. And the funny thing is, I am not a hater, as young people say in 2011.
There is absolutely nothing good about last place. Can you, right now, give me an honest, from-the-heart-response about last place? Oh yeah, You might be like the thousands, even noted sportscasters like the fabled and now deceased, Jim McKay of ABC's Wide World of Sports, who said many times of that poor guy who came down the ski jump only to 'crash and burn' in the snow, "Well, that was surely a character-building moment." Character building? Did I hear you right, Jim? Character building? I can find numerous ways to build character better than almost killing myself on a ski jump. And what really galled me over the years was ABC who kept showing the footage of this poor guy week after week falling off the ski jump to his certain last place finish. I guess, among his friends, he was known as, "agony of defeat Alan," or some other embarrassing name. You see? Nothing ever comes from being in last place.
For all tender-hearts, optimists, people who always see the silver lining in dark clouds, let's take a quick quiz. In Saturday Night's Sprint Cup Race from Kansas, we all know that Matt Kenseth came in first, Kyle Busch came in second, but WHO CAME IN LAST? Huh? Oh, don't hit Google to find out. You did not know who came in last place did you? I proved my point. Don't feel bad for not knowing who was last in this 500-mile race. Hardly anyone knows. And whomever the driver was who came in last, is taking it in stride. He comes home from the race and goes into his house, "Honeeee, I'm home!" "Did you win, dear?" his lovely wife asks from the kitchen. "No, honeeeee, I was last," he says with a beaming smile. "Oh now, now, one day, if you will just 'hang in there," (one of those feel-good phrases) you might be fourth one day!" she says with a smile so wide you could park a Mack truck in her mouth.
I tell you. There is absolutely no honor, nobility, or anything memorable about being in last place. Don't tell me that you subscribe to the saying, "Well, someone had to bring up the rear," and stuff like that. That only makes me more upset. There are no prizes for last place and if they are, they are cheaply-manufactured. Not shining and precious like the first place prizes. This, I have seen in my own hometown. Yes, on another occasion, I witnessed a competition for teenage guys and girls at an unsanctioned track meet. In each event, there were "dime store trophies" for everyone who competed in the races. This was a clever way for the last place finishers to not feel so bad about themselves. Last place is last place. That's all there is to it. I can't. You can't. No one can sugar-coat last place.
In a two-person race, who comes in last? Can you solve this riddle? You say the one who crossed the finish line last. Okay. That makes him second, right? Wrong. Last place. You see, there is no justice for last place finishers. Why did God even create a last place? I better not get too bold about that one. That idea was His and His alone. Still, I have never, and I do mean never, have met anyone who was thrilled about being last in any race or competition. If a person is really, down-deep happy about being last, there is something wrong with them. A normal person would not love being in last place. Have you ever talked to someone who was upset for coming in first? No. And you won't.
If I could get my way, for once, I would love to get a few powerful social engineers whose opinion is respected, feared, and honored, to help me get LAST PLACE taken out of all sporting events. Are you with me? We do not know the internal damage being in last place has caused many young and old people who thought their efforts were good enough, but failed. There might be a lot of people suffering in silence today in 2011. Why can't our Federal Government's Department of Human Resources conduct a three-year study on the affects of being in last place? Is that a sensible bill to pass? I would definitely love to see the results of this type of test.
My new thinking would be if a race had five contestants, you could rename the positions into "And in first place, Billy Wilkins, second place, Maggie McCoy, third place, Alice Donovan, fourth place, Mikey Howell and in fifth place, Jeb Samuels, let's give these young people a big hand!" Now isn't that more respectable than an untrained sports announcer saying, "and now last but certainly not least, is Jeb Samuels, who did a great job of bringing up the rear," I hate that. I hate that worse than being stranded in Antarctica without a coat or dogsled.
I wish I could tell you a list of positive things that are associated with being in in last place, but I cannot. I am so sorry. Any other story it would be a piece of cake. Okay. Let's do this. I will give you "My Own Personal List Of Things That Last Place Finishers Have That First Place Finishers Do Not Have," Whew, what a title.
LAST PLACE FINISHERS HAVE:
1. The luxury of not having to run that fast as the people in head of him or her, thus, they can save their bodies for some other event in life.
2. Last place finishers do not have to worry about getting their photos snapped or posing with snobby first-place finishers.
3. Sometimes, if you are last place finisher guy, the girls will be sorry for you and console you with kisses, hugs, and maybe a date later that night for it's a known fact that girls root for the underdog. Remember that.
4. As a last-place finisher, you can enjoy the landscape as you run by. Hey, you are not going to win this marathon for the other contestants are miles ahead of you, so why kill yourself. Take it easy. Enjoy the flowers, trees and wildlife.
5. If you have a "hermit personality," then being in last place is ideal for you for no one will ever know who you are and drill you with useless questions.
These are the only five good things I could come up with to make people who finish last feel better about themselves. In closing. Am I that obsessed about last place and how awful last place is that I will waste the rest of my life trying to fix it? Probably not. I know that it is a losing battle and one "I" cannot win. Yes, I would be in last place too when my team and I are awarded commendations from President Obama from the Rose Garden. It would go like this.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press (CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX), we are gathered here today for a moment of history. A moment that I feel, will change the very course of our country, and our world as well. (CROWD APPLAUDS.) This team to my right, has been working diligently day and night at one of our most-prestigious universities, Yale University, not for personal glory, but for the well-being of all mankind. They have worked for the last seven years on the redesign and restructuring of our way of determining and naming winners in events and those who follow.(CROWD APPLAUDS. OBAMA SMILES). No more will people who finish LAST, be called LAST PLACERS! No, it is (CROWD APPLAUDS) a new day in America. With a new vision and hope for people who are prone to placing last in races, competitions and events. From now on, as I sign this bill, they, the last place finishers will be known as, "THOSE IN BEHIND WHO PUSHED OTHERS IN AHEAD OF THEM," what a noble title, team. Okay. Now let me introduce to you, the four members of The Last Place Renaming Team, we have, Dr. Reynolds Causey, Dr. Janet Miley, Dr. Dianna Yielding, and The Man Behind Who Pushed The Four In Ahead Of Him, Kenneth Avery!) (CROWD RUSHES TO PODIUM--BEGS ME FOR AUTOGRAPHS, ASKS FOR ME TO POSE WITH THEM IN PHOTOS.)
And all because of an idea that came to me on this day, October 17, 2011.
Thanks, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. Aww, come on. You can sit down.