Win or lose with class

It seems too many of us have lost a sense of fairness in competition. Be it sports or politics, too many of us feel it matters less if the game was fair, as long as my tribe wins. That is unfortunate as we should strive to be like our better angels and win or lose with class.

Whether the sport is a team game or an individual competition, winning means so much more if it is done the right way. Also, if your team gives it a great shot, but falls short, how the loss is handled matters a great deal. As a participant and a fan, I have had my share of heartbreaking losses. I had to learn as a boy to be a better sport, which is a necessary lesson that a coach or parent must impart.

Sports is just a game. For fans, it is entertainment. For participants, it is a way to test yourself and earn a living, if you are very good at it. But, unlike gladiators, no one dies at the end. No one loses a close friend or mother. Yet, people place the utmost importance to their tribe. If their team wins, it elevates them above their routine lives. If their team loses, they feel less about themselves. To be frank, whether my team wins or loses makes me feel one way or the other, but it is about the outcome not my life.

Politics has become the same way, very tribal in nature. My party must win and your party must lose. Doing our business to solve real problems is less relevant than winning. I want real problems solved. I don’t want politicians appeasing funders. But, the more important tribe is the country for which these elected officials represent. That is what matters the most, yet we lose sight of that.

As a player, I have never been a fan of trash talking. It shows poorly on the talker and dishonors fair competition. I feel the same about labeling and name-calling a political opponent. It reveals a lack of character and a poor argument. In politics, it gets in the way of working together. I can assure you as an independent voter and former member of both parties, neither side has all the good ideas, and both have some pretty bad ones. In fact, the good ideas seem to be drowned out by ideas to solve overstated problems. It is essential to work together.

After 9/11, one of the more profound pieces of advice came from a professional basketball announcer named Gerry Vaillancourt. On his talk show after 9/11, the callers discussed what we must do to quickly get back at someone for the four attacks, one which was thwarted. Vaillancourt disagreed. He said we need to be very calm and diligent as we gather our information, taking the necessary time to get it right. Only then, should we act. He said our calmness will be unnerving. I think about his words as they came from an unexpected source and they ring so true. In life and in sport, you should be more wary of the quiet person.

To me, this is in keeping with treating others like you want to be treated. You do your very best to compete with fairness and, win or lose, do so with class. If you cheat or show your hind end, you will be remembered for that as well. And, one thing sports teaches us is how to handle failure. The very best baseball hitters will fail seven times out of ten. Even the best of boxers get knocked down. So, in life, when you do get knocked down, you get back up, dust yourself off and keep going.

9 thoughts on “Win or lose with class

  1. Wise words and very true Keith. If you think the best way to get yourself elected is to verbally bash the opposition then you can’t have very good policies. 2016 seems to have been the proof of the pudding.

    • Thanks Hugh. I kept this more general to supplement your Serena post. I was also thinking of how Ohio State fans are looking the other way because Urban Meyer is a winner. Then, there are the politicians led by the man in the White House where demeaning, lying and cheating are OK. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    Good sportsmanship should be a required learning skill, like how to win and lose graciously. Sen. John McCain is a great example of how to do both well. The current president is the perfect example of what not to do,

    The other trait I like is when the one who lost any competition that she/ he does not make excuses, blame others, etc. And when he/ she makes a mistake, he/ she should own it. Stating words like, I made a mistake, is not the end of the world.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, good comment. The contrast between John McCain and Donald Trump is stark. It surprises me still how the lack of character of the latter is not easily gleaned by his followers. Many of his strident supporters would not dream of teaching their children to act like this man in the White House. Yet, they believe a man who obviously is untruthful and demeans others. Keith

  3. We could dwell on the small matter of the present incumbent having received less votes than his opponent but I suspect the answer would be the same as when I worked in H M Inspector of Taxes and we had to deal with Legal Avoidance….act an act carried out in the letter of the law but not in its spirit.
    Anyway as always a very wise and perceptive post Keith.
    Wishing you and yours a safe time over the next few days in the coming storms.
    Best wishes

    • Roger, many thanks. It is amazing that the US President keeps harping on Puerto Rico, trying to rewrite history. A story from a GOP leader in Florida said “Shut up Mr. President,” on his efforts to blame others for correctly pointing out the death count. Keith

      • I might sound cynical and world-weary here, but the way he keeps on is positively insulting. It is so obvious to everyone apart from the fanatical that he is lying.
        Now an astute manipulator would be far more deft and less-long winded in endeavours to be re-writing the history (Which is normal in the world of political, social and military histories).
        The man is such a crass amateur.

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