After the super bowl cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers basically said that sure he was a bad loser and that anyone who said they were a good loser was a real “loser”.
Certainly I can understand his post bowl loss disappointment and hope that after thinking a bit more about it since then that he came to realized the implications of his statement.
For my part I don’t buy that premise one bit. Sure losing a war or a fight isn’t good and it would be most difficult to feel good about such a loss but football, though many might not agree with me, isn’t the same.
While I don’t enjoy losing, at the same time I believe it is just as important to lose graciously and to be a good loser as it is to win graciously and be a good winner. I’d certainly would prefer losing well if I knew I put in my best effort and simply lost to a better team or person than to win at all odds, lost badly, rubbed it in someone’s face or beat someone I should have anyway.
During my junior year of high school I was the captain of the Bay Shore High School cross country team and was one of the best runners in the league. Although I won a great many meets that year my most memorable one was a defeat at the hands of Newfield High School.
That day I came in fourth place. While I didn’t win the race, it was memorable in that I only lost by a mere one and a half seconds. They had three incredible runners who I wasn’t expected to beat plus we were competing at their school. The last leg of their two and a half mile course was about a two hundred yard open field. As we hit the opening to it from the woods we were all neck and neck and we basically sprinted all the way to the finish line.
While I wasn’t able to overtake them I knew I had given it my all and had forced them to push themselves to the limit also. In the end we all shared congratulatory hugs and I later was further gratified to find I had beaten my best time of the year. Would I have liked to have won? Sure I would have but no I didn’t feel like a loser even though I didn’t win.
I’ve always been a pretty fair tennis player but I have a friend named Peter who is much better than me and who bested me on the tennis courts for years. While I lost to Peter, at the same time we had fun matches and I always seemed to play my best against him and never left the court feeling like a loser.
One evening after years of defeats at his hands, I finally beat him in a best of three sets. Though overall our match record together was something like 100-1 I felt all the more good about that one victory because it was not only well fought but fun. What was most pleasing was when he admitted that by me taking my game to the next level I had forced him to up his game in the process.
On the flip side of the coin, my best showing in a surfing contest came in late 1987 in an Eastern Surfing Association contest in Cape Hatteras. I came in third that weekend. Normally I would have been stoked to the max over my surfing and finish against stiff competition but wasn’t based on what had occurred during the finals. I was about to pull into a nice barrel, something that doesn’t happen all too often in EC competitions (at least not for me), when I noticed a fellow competitor paddling up in front of me. I could have kicked out of the wave but instead tried to make it past him and pull off my tube ride.
Unfortunately I ended up running into his board and messed it up pretty badly. Sure he was in the wrong place and was thusly disqualified, but I felt horrible about it knowing I could possibly have avoided it and as such I couldn’t enjoy my success.
I will always remember one winter Olympics some years ago when a reporter asked one of our competitors who had finished fourth in the Giant Slalom how it felt to be a loser. The guy looked at the announcer as if he had two heads and basically replied, ‘What to you mean? I came in here expected to place near the bottom and ended up finishing fourth which makes me the fourth best Giant Slalom skier in the world. I wouldn’t call that losing”. I cheered when I heard it as his comment was spot on.
Bottom line, I do believe that how you play the game and giving it your best effort are still what it’s all about when it comes to winning and losing and that you can be a good loser without being a “loser” like Cam said.
In the immortal words of John Candy in the movie “Cool Running”, “If your not good enough without it then you’ll never be good enough with it” when it comes to winning.
Thanks for checking in and I hope you win but if you don’t then there’s no need to feel bad as long as you gave it your best.