By Lieneke Hulshof

The logic of sport dominates our society, wrote René Gude, philosopher, in his essay Dan maak je maar zin [Then just get in the mood]. ‘Sport terminology permeates our whole life, score boards flash their lights in all corners of society. Surveys and rankings tumble over one another. The quality of enterprises, social initiatives and political institutions are reflected retrospectively in statistics.’ There are always winners and losers in sporting events, and this is no different in a sportified society, according to Gude. In a society in which everyone has the freedom to excel, it really is your own fault if you fail. After all, why does everyone else succeed?

Many years ago, Vika Mitrichenko’s father had a very successful career as coach of the national Soviet swimming team. As a child she learnt the meaning of performance, and she developed an aversion to it. In her work The Trophy Cups she pays tribute to the achievements of an ordinary life while also paying tribute to father, because he finally achieved real success from everyday existence. The titles of the trophies explain their purpose: ‘For learning to swim upstream during his first training sessions in the village’s river’, ‘For looking into the distance and doing nothing’ and ‘For having said once: forgive me, if I ever hurt you’. This work by Mitrichenko is a fitting answer to our sportified society. ‘Maybe the most important thing is not professional success, but rather, that what is left in the shadows is much more important and valuable?’