Anything that human beings do for fun, they'll find a way to turn into a competition. Do you enjoy Irish dancing, or whitewater kayaking, or juggling? You've probably only scratched the surface of the competitive leagues, Olympic events, and fierce rivalries between competing philosophies and disciplines.
Even something as task-oriented as Firefighting, my profession, can be reduced to a series of timed events. This video shows almost mind-boggling feats of agility that bear only a passing resemblance to the actual physical work of the job.
I was thinking about this as I looked at the website for the 2015 World Police and Fire Games, which will be centered a stone's throw from my house. I was poring over the lengthy lists of sporting events, and pondering whether I could be competition-ready within six months. I'm in pretty good shape - my job demands it - but when it comes to serious athleticism, I'm like a normal guy who read an encyclopedia in lieu of being smart. There's something very enticing about the idea of taking part in an Olympic-styled event with colleagues from around the world. It's almost enough to justify the inevitable ass-kicking I would suffer at the hands of genuinely gifted and dedicated athletes.