At the limits of their power, six strong young men approach the string along the finish line. The swiftest of them breaks the cord, detonating the release of joyous empathy among the thousands in the stadium. This massed satisfaction raises yet further the ecstatic self-satisfaction of the victor. His sweaty face cracks with happiness and he shouts joyously, adding to the tumult. He runs about in tight circles as the losers -- envious of his accomplishment -- respectfully slap his back. They are noble. They tried as hard as he did. Next time one of them may produce the minute piece of extra power to certify supremacy. They all participated in one of the fine, festive moments that is a well-observed sports victory.
This is an accurate if abstract portrayal of the climax of a blessedly frequent ritual that characterizes and reinforces many distinct aspects of modern life. Such a stirring piece of sport theater need not be confined to a foot race, but could just as well be a moment during an international competition for figure skaters in Ottawa or a local basketball tournament in a suburb of Montevideo.