2008-11-06 / Sam Bari

History in the making

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

Tuesday was not an ordinary day. It marked a day of historical significance. The work required on the part of the candidates to reach that monumental moment was astounding.

It didn't start when everybody decided to enter the contest. The preparation it took to have the right stuff to make the grade and get the nod took years to develop.

After being accepted, every move the participants made was closely scrutinized. The unrelenting media attention and nitpicking criticism had to be maddening. Every time they appeared in public, even if it was just to go out for a morning walk or jog, they had to wear a game face. They had to because they would be recognized.

But people like that are accustomed to the public eye. You can't do that for a living without enjoying meeting and responding to strangers.

Nonetheless, I can't imagine having to smile that much. I suppose if you have enough grit to enter a contest of that magnitude, you can tolerate petty annoyances like judgmental remarks from people you don't know.

The truth of the matter is I am one of those judgmental people. I watched the contest closely from day one. I read all the blogs. Every morning and evening, I was glued to my television set switching between news programs to see if there was anything new on the contestants.

It was a big deal when the first person dropped out. Although I don't recall who it was, I remember feeling bad for him. It must be difficult to take after putting forth so much hard work and dedication just to be cast aside as if your efforts were meaningless.

And to think, if you are one of those chosen few and you fail, it isn't just you that is cast aside. It's your support team, family and friends, and those who look up to you to succeed. How must it feel to disappoint all those people who believed in you? I imagine it must feel awful. First, you have to resolve dealing with failing, then you have to deal with failing those who mean so much to you.

When I think about it, whether they win or lose is of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. They were winners before they were chosen to compete for the crown, the chance to grab the ring. When people like that lose, they go back to leading successful and productive lives. It isn't as if that contest were the only thing they had going for them.

Once the field narrowed down to the last few, I picked my favorite. I couldn't help myself. It would be nice if everybody could win, but that's not the way the world works. One person is going to come out ahead of everybody else.

Whenever my contestant waved at the crowd, when the standing ovation seemingly went on forever, I held my breath. I worried that he would not make the most of each moment. It must be so hard to be humble yet confi dent, but not arrogant all at the same time.

That's all it takes is one slip for the media to crucify you. Look a little too confident and it will be construed as arrogant or egotistical. On the other hand, if you respond to applause and praise too meekly, you will be accused of being insecure. Such a fine line must be walked with absolute precision.

As the days went by, the competition got stiffer. Every contestant had his own cross to bear. But in the end, the winner stood alone. If it weren't for the merits of the contestant himself, the best support team in the world would fail.

The gossip columns, blogs, and opinion journals were unmerciful. I joined chat groups, compared notes with other fanatics. I was more anxious than the contestants.

Then it happened. Tuesday night was pre-empted. It was election night. I had to wait until Wednesday to see if my favorite contestant won "Dancing With the Stars." I suppose it's another part of living in a system I can't understand.

Return to top