Marty, I'm not sure if it was I who missed the point, or you, or maybe both.
What I get out of this is; What about the kid whose hips, strength, balance, center of gravity never allows him to win big at a state wrestling finals. Do you think his participation on the team was any less rewarding or gratifying thru-out the season? I think not. I think he had just as much fun, rewards, and experiences as the kid who won it all. Same is true for taxidermy. There are only a very small few who will ever go down in history as having won at the highest levels. Most would tell you they just got lucky. But does that diminish all the others whom were not as lucky? I think not. If that was true, then the rest of us need to close our shops because we will never achieve that mark. But striving for it serves to make us the best we can be. Which makes all the rest of us winners too. Nothing at all wrong with competitions. That's the fun part. But the ego thing Jerry speaks of, is the thing that humbles us...and brings us back down to reality. When at that reality level, one starts over, takes another stab at it and hopes to do better the next time. But just like in baseball............there is only one World Series winner each year, but that doesn't stop the other teams from playing the game and enjoying the game for what it is. After all...........the Cubs haven't won anything in a hundred years, but they still play the game all year long every year, and still maintain a fan base. IE, so is this game we call taxidermy. When you can't no longer play the game for the love of the game, it's time to hang it up.
Tim, it depends on if Jerry's comments were literal or philosophical! If he was talking about "winning" in the sense that everybody is a "winner" b/c they're participating and learning and having fun, then my bad! In print, it certainly could be taken either way. And if that is the case that's great! However, then Michael's comment is appropriate - get some Vagasil - lol!
J/K - I understand fully the socializing and developing friendships aspects of competing. But, I would argue that it IS more rewarding when you're winning at least once in awhile IF you're there to actually compete. Which, I believe most are.
Tim, you're also kind've jumping between the literal and philosophical debate in your second paragraph, but I'll do my best to respond to your comments.
My comments still stand if Jerry was literally talking about winning. I think he was b/c he speaks of "rewards and prize". That wouldn't be in the discussion if it were philosophical. MOST competitors that win at the highest levels win b/c simply put, they work harder than everybody else. Very little luck is involved. But, luck is the excuse others use often that's for sure! Dan Gable for instance will be the first to tell you that he was not the most gifted athlete. But, he's considered one of the most dominant athletes ever to compete in any sport b/c of his hard work and mental discipline. Yes, not everybody can be #1 and those that show up to practice or to the competitions KNOWING they're never going to crack that line-up or win a taxidermy competition are the real "winners" (again, philosophical sense). And in fact, these types of people are more at peace with themselves and one has to commend them for staying with things. Gable to this day regrets his one loss to Owings b/c Owings was a relative nobody at the time and he beat Gable at his own game! He wore Gable down b/c Owings was better prepared physically.
Cubs are a bad example. The Chicago north sider fans are all drunks and that's why they go!
Losing competitions and closing ones shop? Sorry, I don't see any correlation here whatsoever Tim!
And the ego thing - IF one's competing for fun and the philosophical "winning", then there is no ego to speak of (in theory - lol!). Taken literally to "win", I'm not even sure "ego" is the right word. What I'm saying is those at the highest levels at anything don't "accept their loss and try again" (sic) as Jerry stated, that loss MOTIVATES them to work that much harder! They DON'T accept a loss. Period. It's that drive and desire and competitive nature and willingness to do what it takes to win that defines the best from all the rest! At least that's been the winning recipe for success for the numerous kids I've coached to State Championships in Wrestling. It's a certain mindset that comes with certain personalities that you really can't teach. But, I GUARANTEE that mindset is with all the past World Taxidermy Champions. Sure, they may have enjoyed meeting folks and the friendships made. But, that's a side attraction. They were there to WIN! (Maybe Gray Bruch or Pescado will chime in here and confirm what I'm saying! Quite frankly, I'm sure they'd be offended if somebody told them "they were just lucky"...)