December 13, 2013
An intern’s reflection on the Spirit of Competition exhibit

DSC_0011When is a competition really over? Is it when one opponent defeats the other? Or is success possible for both sides as long as they learn something? Defining what it means to win is a very subjective process and competition is not always between two opposing sides. Sometimes the only way to gauge success is through the lens of personal expectation.

In November, Indiana Humanities’ Spirit of Competition exhibit made its final stop. From our perspective at Indiana Humanities, this two year traveling exhibit and the accompanying set of programs was a success. The exhibit was displayed across the state, from Indianapolis to Valparaiso, from Terra Haute to Warsaw. Thousands of Hoosiers interacted with the videos, raced against Major Taylor’s speed on the bike, and dreamed up new inventions.

At each stop we encouraged the community to think, read, and talk about the five themes: civility, rivalry, passion, innovation, and failure. Movie screenings of films like Rudy and lectures encouraged thinking about the role of competition in the state. Book displays at libraries provided reading material to delve in deeper with the stories of local Hoosiers such as Colonel Eli Lilly, Larry Bird, or Madame Walker. Finally, Chew On This events got communities talking about competition in Indiana. Over the past two years, the Spirit of Competition program has connected the state through asking thought-provoking questions about competition in Indiana.

Although this is the end of Indiana Humanities’ focus on Spirit of Competition, we know that rivalry, passion, innovation, and failure will all remain integral parts of Indiana’s culture.  In 2014, Indiana Humanities will be transitioning to an exhibit and programs focused on Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016.  The theme of The Next Indiana will encourage Hoosiers to think, read, and talk about the people, places, and ideas that will shape Indiana’s next 200 years. Competition will be an important element in Indiana’s future, just as it has in the past. Athletics will continue to define the Hoosier spirit and new sports stars will raise to prominence.  The next generation of political leaders will inspire the state and the nation by shaping the communities we live in. And Indiana innovations will change the world as we know it. Although we cannot predict the future, it is certain that Indiana will remain a competitive state.

How will debates change our perspectives? What failures will shape the next Indiana? Whose passion will infect the state with spirit? As we reflect on the conclusion of the Spirit of Competition exhibit, we invite you to look to the future with us.

This post was written by Christine Crosby, an Indiana Humanities intern.  

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