After reading Ashton Gannon’s “Hooping Is NOT Serious Business…is it?” I spent some time contemplating competition and it place in a community. Here on Hoop City (and in the hooping community as a whole) I perceive an ideal of inclusiveness, the belief that regardless of skill we are each unique contributors to our art and our tribe.
However I can’t ignore the fact that I judge others in relation to myself. I figure most people do. The issue therefore is more complex than saying “hooping isn’t a competition,” because competition, both personal and economic, shapes and hones our community. Among professionals and craftspeople, hooping is a competition to sell hoops and earn gigs. Not only does competition divide the successful entrepreneur from the dabbler, but it drives each contributor to craft a better product and create a more dazzling act.
Stepping aside from the eat-or-be-eaten perspective of competition, I also want to explore how competition helps divide and distribute the work of a community. Our skills extend far beyond those initial judgments of who is the most skilled or sexiest hooper. I find myself thinking about our meet-up last weekend, because in the days before I was so preoccupied with how I would measure up to the folks I met. However once I got there I realized being non-competitive is easier in practice than in my head. Watching hoopers drift in and out of camp I really glimpsed our diversity. Some gals are always hooping, others pick up the hoop for short bursts. Some know lots of tricks, others make waist hooping a fascinating dance. Outside the circle I met folks who organize, folks who share their booze, folks who teach, and folks who can identify the rocks we find along the creek bed.
All those unique skills strengthen and enrich our community. Competition gives us each the space and opportunity to use our energy where it is needed most, doing work we do best. As a community we must continue to be mindful that competition doesn’t create a mire or envy or elitism and I believe acknowledging competition, rather than denying it, is an important first step.