NEW YORK: New York is a competitive, competitive town. This we know. Some of this competitiveness is healthy. Some of it is ridiculous. People in this city can be competitive about careers, salaries, education, apartments, restaurants, fashion, pets, pet fashion—it never truly stops.
One could argue that daily life in New York City is itself a competition—the race to get out the door, the secret race on the sidewalk (oh, you didn’t know about that?), the scramble for the train, for your caffeine jet fuel, and then to the elevator, the desk, the computer, the email. If you’re reading this column in New York, you’re probably rushing to finish it first. You’ve probably already left work and are on your way to yoga. Good for you. I hope you win yoga.
Finally New York’s absurd competitive spirit has been quantified…and we are dominating! A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Citigroup, found New York to be to be the most competitive city on the planet.
It evaluated areas like economic strength and financial maturity and the type of cheese you keep in the fridge (at least I think that was a category) and determined that this city is still a thrilling and wildly competitive sandbox. The experts concluded that New York will remain earth’s most competitive city into 2025. It is not clear if they considered the Mets.
So we’re No. 1. Hooray for us—and pass the stress ball and the vodka tonics. London ranked second on the most-competitive-in-2025 index. Steak knives, London! Singapore was third. Chicago was ninth.
Boston finished 19th, just barely squeaking into the playoffs.
It’s not clear if this civic competitiveness always translates to New York’s sports teams. The Yankees are historically competitive—and Yankee fans definitely are competitive. Yankee fans are furious they can’t win a World Series in April and disappointed that Joe Girardi has failed to deliver a Stanley Cup. In recent years the Giants have given New York a pair of improbable Super Bowl titles. The rest of the lot is pretty mixed. The Knicks are better but still drive you nuts.
The Rangers, Islanders, Red Bulls are OK but not elite. The Nets are a turkey sandwich: inoffensive, unexciting. The Jets have abandoned football to open a used furniture store in the East Village. The Mets…well, the Mets have Matt Harvey. Matt Harvey is competitive. Matt Harvey would tackle a unicorn.
If you play sports yourself in New York City you know that New Yorkers can be a crazed about innocent games. Even the zero-stakes weekend-warrior nonsense can get a little heated. This is a city of Type-A lawyer basketball and chippy banker hockey and even aggro folks who try to “win” spin class. Part of the local sports tension is borne from the competitive spirit of its people. Part of it is borne from living in a place with limited space. I play tennis in New York City and you have to be just as competitive to get a court as you do playing the actual tennis. Actually that’s wrong. Getting the court is always more competitive than the tennis.
Sometimes the competitiveness just goes too far. You see New Yorkers lose their minds all the time in meetings, taxi stands, even on the street. Getting to the airport feels like a Game 7. The subway should have a referee. Probably the most insanely competitive environment in New York is a real-estate open house. That’s a gladiator pit. I don’t know why the MSG or SNY networks don’t broadcast open houses. And they’re offering all cash…now they’re offering all cash over asking…and it doesn’t even have outdoor space…
This is not always an attractive quality. Nobody wants to be seated at dinner with someone who is trying to outdo you about where they go on vacation (“Tulum? So great. We rented a house there 11 years ago…”) or neighborhoods or apartments or, heaven forbid, being competitive about their children, which is a nightmare and makes a lot of good people want to abandon this city for good. Competitive dining is a bizarre but very real thing in New York; personally, I don’t understand why it’s a considered an accomplishment to eat at a restaurant before somebody else. Congratulations! You digested first. Have a cookie.
Sometimes it’s best to let a few victories go, dial down the drama, consider the big picture. Competition may be the engine of this amazing city, but it doesn’t take much for the best parts of New York to become the worst parts of New York. City life is not always a sport. It looks like we’re going to be good through 2025, but you don’t have to win everything. You don’t have to cut in line. Sometimes it’s OK to be runner-up. The Mets would probably be thrilled. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL