With track season just around the corner, I would like to bring up the ideals of commitment, dedication, and endurance, all essential qualities of an athlete. The few concluding chapters of All Quiet on the Western Front significantly altered my view and opinion on the novel. I was quite hesitant to read the book, knowing that it was about war and history, two subjects I dislike with a passion. I already had enough history lectures from my AP Euro teacher… Why did we have to read more about WWI, I wondered. And in English class?! Little did I know, I would be hooked on the plot, characters, as well as overall message/theme of the novel.
For Paul, war had become a lifestyle. It was no longer a matter of serving his country, but one of being there for his comrades and supporting them along the way. He had accustomed to “war-life” and grew to accept it. It was an escape from his reality, as strange as that sounds. Paul was given a “token” to leave his home, a sad and depressing scene where his dying mother and worried family resided. He was deathly afraid of his own home life and was confused of what home really meant to him. Such tragic events changed his mental and emotional outlook on war. Paul became more committed and dedicated to the cause, as a result. He was willing to sacrifice all he could to help others. He no longer thought of himself, but considered his comrades at the number one priority. To save them, was to save himself. It relieved him to see his comrades, whom had ultimately become his family, safe under his care. Having endurance, mentally and physically, as well as believing in his comrades, was what propelled him in forward during war time. Paul could no longer stop and think about all his wrong doings, but rather keep moving and hope for the best.
This is what a team is about. It’s about thinking of others first. Making sure that your teammates are okay. It’s setting your priorities straight: what’s good for the team and how can I help. “We win together and fail together. There is no I in Team.”
It’s a matter of how are we different from others… And the answer to that is because we know how to stick together and work as a unit. Although track/cross-country seems like an individual sport, it really all narrows down to how each individual has contributed to the team. What place you get relative to your teammate behind/in front of you, how the group packs, and the times are all factors that lead to winning.
All in all, being in a sport is like going to war. We’re all prepared to battle. We’ve trained so much and so hard that our bodies, as well as mental state, ache. We’ve worked as a team, strategizing on what works best and what doesn’t. And in reality… it’s more than just being a team. It’s becoming the team. It’s embodying the sport and having faith in your own abilities and your teammates’.
We’re going into battle.