Going for Gold (or actually, Green)

I absolutely love the Winter Olympics. Cool stories, a fun study in geography, and strange but interesting sports. When else does ski jumping, curling, and slopestyle become prime time viewing? 

I noticed something different during the figure skating competitions this time. While the athletes were skating, little green, yellow, and red boxes appeared by their name. These indicators measured how well the skaters would perform the technical aspects of their routines. Here is how the website Thrillist describes it: 

The technical score [of a figure skating routine] is determined by a panel of judges gauging how well things like spins, jumps, footwork, transitions, and other elements are executed in real time. Each element is worth a certain "base" score (the more difficult the move, the higher its base score), and essentially, judges assign an overall technical score by adding up the scores of all successfully completed maneuvers. 

So, how do judges know what maneuvers to look out for...Well, each competitor has to submit the plans for their skate -- sequentially -- ahead of time. Accordingly, each gray box you see before an athlete starts their program represents a technical element they intend to execute. The different colors indicate how well they pulled off a specific technical component.

If the skater has successfully completed a move, the box will turn green. If the skater didn't successfully pull it off, it'll turn red. A yellow box indicates that the judges aren't quite sure and will need to review it (if you notice, as you keep watching yellow boxes eventually turn either red or green). 

Part of me appreciated this as a tool for the casual viewer to know how a person was performing, but another part of me missed the suspense of not knowing how the scoring would come out. If you saw a guy with 2 red boxes, you already knew there was no chance, since the guy before him only had one. Anyhow, it’s like the yellow first-down line in the NFL - it’s probably here to stay.

I had a slightly humorous and mostly serious thought enter my mind. What if we, as humans living our day to day lives, had these green-yellow-red boxes appear whenever we made a choice or engaged in a behavior? What if others could see how we were scoring in terms of effectively living our daily lives?

Now, in order for this to work, we would have to be judged against something: a routine, a plan, a blueprint of sorts. Basically, we’d be judged against a standard for which we live our lives. Perhaps it’s a religious doctrine, or community norms, or at the minimum, laws and regulations. If you jay-walk, you’re definitely getting a red box. (or maybe yellow, since who really gets in trouble for jaywalking?)

In the workplace, maybe you are evaluated based on how well you perform your daily to-do list, or if you develop a new idea. In the classroom, you could get green boxes for paying attention and participating, and yellows for taking Buzzfeed quizzes instead. The guy next to you snoring, with his head dangerously close to laying on your shoulder, is off-the-charts red.

But what about fraternity and sorority life? For what would we earn green boxes next to our name?

The Ritual.

The Ritual is your routine, your plan, your blueprint. As soon as you are initiated, a series of gray boxes show up next to your name, and it's now your job to make them green. The Ritual will sometimes allow you to comfortably skate in a straight line, but will also ask you to pull off a quadruple axel on occasion. Are you up to the challenge?

For example, my fraternity’s Ritual asks me to be kind and generous to others, even strangers in need. That’s the foundation for the “Helping Hand” of Theta Chi. So, if today I was to walk idly past a person who has fallen down, that red box next to my name will be loud and obvious. If I was back in my college fraternity house, sitting across the breakfast table from a brother who is in clear emotional pain, what would my Ritual call upon me to do? Be worried but just walk away (red)? Say something motivational like “I’m sure things will get better” (yellow)? Or, clear my morning to spend in conversation with him so that I can get him the help he needs (green)? If I knew that a box would appear next to my name based on my decision, I might give it some additional thought.

But here’s the thing, we obviously do not have those boxes literally popping up for all to see. Our success and our mistakes are not always broadcast to the world. 

But imagine there is a panel of judges who can see them, and who would mark you up or down based on how well you perform. For fraternity, this panel might include your founders, your big brother/sister, your favorite alum, etc.

And most importantly, it includes you.

When you go to bed each night, look up in the sky and find your row of boxes. They are sitting there below your name. Was your routine - your Ritual - executed well? Did you deserve the yellows and reds you see, and can you make those green tomorrow?

Remember that in skating, a green box doesn't mean that a particular element was flawless...just that it was executed well. Your Ritual isn't calling upon you to be perfect, but it certainly will give your guidance on what will "score well." 

Let's go land those jumps.

1 comment:

  1. Always excellent, Brother John. Always. Proud to be your brother.