As I was watching the Olympics today from Sochi Russia, I saw the Canadian cross-country ski coach, Justin Wadsworth, do something amazing. You see from all accounts Justin was having a terrible day. His team had not performed as well as they had hoped they would and he was depressed. As he was watching the final of a race he had hoped that one of his team members would have been competing in, he spotted Russian Anton Gafarov coming over a rise. Gafarov, an early medal favorite, was struggling miserably. He’d crashed on a quick downhill corner and broke a ski. Then he crashed again. A long, thin layer of P-Tex had been skinned off his ski. It was now wrapped around his foot like a snare. Gafarov was not ‘skiing’ to the finish. In a race typically decided by tenths-of-a-second, Gafarov was three minutes behind the pack. He was trying to make it the last couple of hundred metres down the 1.7 km course. Wadsworth grabbed a spare ski he’d brought for Canadian racer Alex Harvey and ran onto the track. Gafarov stopped. Wadsworth kneeled beside him. No words passed between them. Gafarov only nodded. Wadsworth pulled off the broken equipment and replaced it. Gafarov set off again. “I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line,” Wadsworth, a three-time Olympian, said. That unselfish act defines what the Olympics is all about.
This story also reminded me of an incident that occurred at the Royal this year.
During one of the most anticipated classes in history, one of the cows came into the ring very uncomfortably. She was not walking with her usual stroll because the teat glue, something that is legal in the North American show ring, had come partly unglued and was causing the cow discomfort and had her kicking at her teat. While many just watched the cow and the showman struggle, one person didn’t. The next showman behind this animal knew that the thrill and passion that drives us all to love the show ring is not about beating someone else, but rather demonstrating the passion for great cattle. No one wants to win on a technicality or because of the misfortune of others. They want to win because they showed the best cow on that day. So that showman took it upon himself to relieve the cow of the discomfort by adjusting and regluing the teat. A simple act of kindness but, in reality, a much larger gesture.
Like Justin Wadsworth at the Olympics, what drives the show ring, or a sport like cross country skiing is not only the prize money or the fame or fortune.
It’s passion for that higher level of training, commitment and dedication. Let’s face it, for the majority of the athletes who compete at the Olympics they do so not to get rich or famous, as there just is not that kind of money in the sports they compete in (outside of men’s Hockey). The same is true for the majority of the people who show cows. If you penciled it all out, the show ring for many is not a big money maker, it’s a passion. (Read more: RF Goldwyn Hailey: Cash Cow or Cash Hog?) A passion that typically costs them far more money than they will ever make. It’s that pure passion that drives them.
Sometimes we are accused here at the Bullvine of forecasting doom and gloom and not looking at the positive.
And while yes I do tell it like I see it, there are parts of this industry that I know will remain for generations to come. (Read more: The Dairy Industry – Past, Present and the Future, Casualties of the Genomic Wars – The End of Seed Stock Producers and Supermodels, Show Cows and the Future of Dairy Cattle Breeding) One such part is those who love to breed show cattle. That is because they do so, not to get rich, or be famous. It’s because they just love great cattle. They love competing at the top shows. Their passion is what drives them not profits. While I certainly see many changes to those who are breeding high index cattle, also typically those ones are trying to “get rich quick.” They do so often times for the dream of big bucks instead of the passion for cattle. (Read more: Richard Caverly A Passion for Perfection – Winner Gives All!, FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: Passion with a Purpose and Do We Speak the Same Language?)
The Bullvine Bottom Line
No matter how often we compete against each other, it’s the passion that joins together the men and woman who compete at all the local shows, regional shows, and even World Dairy Expo and The Royal. Not high paid or well-known except during those moments of intense competition. . I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen exhibitors help their fellow breeder, often their biggest competitor. However, they rise above the rivalry and share their mutual dedication to the craft they have spent countless hours working on. That is what makes the show ring great. For over 30 years I have had the pleasure of being moved by great moments inside and outside the show ring. The medals and ribbons add up to winning histories but moments of unselfishness show us the true winners. For me, those who do it for the passion last. Those who do it to get rich don’t.