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Understanding Culture
By Donny Shankle

This is something I’ve learned from my travels. The world is full of so many different types of cultures. Some are better than others and some are difficult to understand. Some cultures are strict while other cultures are tolerant. I’ve been to places where things are very black and white and there is no grey area. Laws and customs are the way they are and no matter how silly they may seem to you it’s wise to show respect.

One of the great things about sport is no matter the culture you come from the goal is the same. Win. The sad thing is some cultures do not believe in winning honorably. Sport has rules. It is a contest among men and women to find the best within our species. If there are not rules in sport to be followed or if those rules cannot be enforced then sport ceases to be an honorable contest. It’s no longer sport and it turns into mere entertainment. I do not like the idea of competing for purely entertainment purposes. I am a sportsman and this means I follow the rules of competition to find the best. It is up to the athletes to enforce these rules. The athletes must police their own because bureaucracy can be bought off and bribed. The good man cannot be bought or bribed and the athlete must uphold this idea.

I have had teammates and friends of mine who are weightlifters tell me how it’s not their fault they cheat and use drugs to win. It’s just in their culture. It’s how they were brought up or it’s how it was explained to them. Nonsense. The rules are in black and white and spelled out in many different languages.

I’ll hear some people say how Weightlifting is a dirty sport and it pisses me off. Weightlifting is not a dirty sport. It is a beautiful sport which unfortunately is full of a lot of cheats. The sport itself is wonderful and highly challenging and no matter what culture you come from the idea of what a good man is remains the same. You are not just a showman on the platform. You are one example of the best of humankind.