In Pursuit of Perfection
Our regulars know that there are few things I love more than my Wisconsin Badgers. So, you may be surprised to learn that I'm really bummed that the Illinois basketball team suffered their first loss today. Now, don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled if the Badgers, rather than Ohio State, had done the deed. But, since they didn't, what I feel is disappointment that a perfect season was ruined.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. As a sports fan, you want your team to win, but you also want to see the special, the extraordinary and the perfect. And sometimes, it's not just fans, but fellow competitors who feel that way. I'm reminded of the jockey William Knapp, who rode Upset when he defeated Man O'War. It was the only loss of Man O'War's career and it was the result of a great ride by Knapp and lots of bad racing luck for Man O'War. Knapp said:
If I'd just moved over a bit, he would have gone through and beat me by a mile. Sometimes I'm sorry I didn't do it. So great a champion as Man O'War deserved to retire undefeated.
I'm not sure Illinois deserved to go undefeated, but I would have loved to have them trying to do so in the National Championship game.
Of course, sports isn't the only arena in which we pursue perfection. Too often, I think, we look for the perfect public policy. A good example of what I mean is illustrated by the reaction to the Patriot Act:
One of the odd things about debates over the Patriot Act is that even its harshest informed critics actually only oppose a very small part of the Act; the overwhelming majority of the statute is uncontroversial among the fairly small number of people who understand what's in it.
The Patriot Act enables government agencies to work together more efficiently. But no, it's not perfect. Because of that, it's been demonized. That's such a stupid reaction. Those opposed to the Patriot Act, or other pieces of legislation, should work to change the parts they dislike. Instead, they want to throw away the baby with the bathwater.
Locally, this makes me think of the saga of the Ken Kopps building near Camp Randall stadium. Ken Kopps was a neighborhood grocery store in this overwhelmingly liberal part of town. The store closed over 5 years ago and ever since this prime spot of real estate has been vacant because the neighborhood can't find the "perfect" new tenant. They've turned down numerous passable, but not perfect, businesses, and still have the gall to complain about being stuck with an empty eyesore.
Yes, we all seek perfection, but sometimes we're better off settling for "pretty good".
Posted by at March 6, 2005 08:03 PM
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|# March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM Converted_Comment|
“Perfection is the enemy of good” is an old French saying: Le Mieux est l'Ennemi du Bien. I learned it from Patton's autobiography.
http://oldwhig.blogspot.com/ - a proxy for Al.
|# March 13th, 2005 12:32 AM marcus|
We get another shot at Illinois!
|# March 13th, 2005 12:38 AM james|
|i think they're vulnerable now, too. but they are awfully good.
hey marcus, join my and kris' badger bball argument in the threads, here