Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Agony of Defeat becomes Real

I remember the words of the opening lines of ABC's Wide World of Sports talking about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The image of the ski jumper crashing on the slope after a failed launch still plays in my mind as the visuals associated with those words scroll through my mind.

I have felt the sting of defeat--losing a contest or event that I really wanted to win. I have watched my favorite sports teams accept defeat. Only one team can win, we are told. Or, both teams are truly winners--but only one can be the champion.

Usually, there are no tears--we have become resigned to not crying when we lose. We must be tough and accept the end result even though every fiber of our being wants to scream, it's not fair! We should have won! We are the better team!
GORC Playoff vs Andover
November 8, 2014
Arundel High School

That is why we play the games.

Yesterday, on a cold, but bright, November morning I witnessed the end of the season for a group of six and seven year old football players including my grandson Jax. They lost a playoff game by one small point (19-18) to a team they had previously beaten 25-0. Jax's team had lost games before--so they have felt the sting of loss. But this was the first time they felt the loss associated with a season ending defeat. 

With the filters off--because six and seven year olds don't have many filters, I was reminded how much losing a game that really needs to be won hurts. I was astonished to see tears in the eyes of most of the players as the finality of the game became real. And I realized, that there have been many times when I have lost a tough contest that I wish I could have cried--but couldn't. I thought the coach's speech after the game was perfect--he reminded them that this was only their first year of football and that they had come so far and learned so much. He encouraged them not to lose touch with each other and that next year--next year, will be different.

I'm sure the words meant much more to the parents who were tending to their crying football players than to the players themselves, but that is the gift of sports--we'll get them next time!

The agony of defeat stings hard, but it is temporary and motivating!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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