Being Above Average

It’s good to be above average in something. Isn’t it? After all, isn’t the whole Olympic thing about being above average? OK, a long way above average, but it’s only a matter of degree.

Well, I’ve figured out I’m above average. In lots of ways.

I have more than the average number of fingers and toes. I have more than the average number of hands and feet, of ears and eyebrows, of elbows and knees. I am above average in so many areas I am above averagely astounded by it.

Consider all those butchers who have lopped off a finger. That kid I used to know who’d done the same thing with an axe to one of his toes. TV presenter Adam Hills with his empty shoe. So many people have contributed to the lowering of the average number of fingers and toes, of legs and arms.

It would take some fancy statistics to work out the average number of fingers per person on the planet, but it’s not impossible to get a close-enough figure. And here’s me with my full quota of body parts, proving me to be just a little above average.

Stands to reason then that the Olympic gold medallists are so far above average. Well, until today in Australia.

Two Olympic swimmers, Stephanie Rice and Eamon Sullivan, proved the opposite today. In a public welcome at a shopping centre they refused to sign anything that was not from the racks of their clothing sponsor, Davenport. The sponsorship deals prevents them from engaging in commercial conflict, we are told. A lot of people queued for nothing and left upset and angry.

We might blame the Davenport people. Or we might blame the legal people. Or we might blame the people who signed the contract, the Olympic gold swimmers. It’s a shared event this one, a mixed medley gold. All share the glory, and all share its antithesis.

In a week or so we will see the next Olympic Games, the Paralympics. The games will be peopled by those who are a bit more average than I am in body parts, but far above average in so many other aspects.

I guess it shows that we are all a bit above average in some things, and regrettably below average in other things. The skill of being real, of being a fully human person, is to make sure we have a good handle on what those things are. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the Paralympians will prove to be a little more above average than some of their able-bodied counterparts on that score.

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