Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Losing with Honor

       I'm still getting used to this whole blog idea. However, since I don't really know what to write, I figure I would just share an essay about losing.

        How to lose. Perhaps the most important lesson you can learn from sports besides teamwork. In today’s culture, this lesson is becoming scarce. Parents buckle to their child’s tears and force any organization to give every child a trophy. Of course, this ruins the effect of earning a trophy. It lowers the honor of earning that trophy. It can even undermine the principles and motivations for working to earn that trophy. It’s important to realize, you won’t win in life all the time, if at all. You don’t get everything you work for, but you need to work for it nonetheless.
        Some people say it’s important to play the game not for the trophy, but to have fun. That is important, but that’s not what sticks. People think happiness consists of laughter or pleasure. It doesn’t. Sometimes the greatest joy comes not from having fun, or winning, but from how you played the game. To have fun is part of it, but the greatest satisfaction comes from playing to the best of your ability and the ability of your team. Your team may let you down, but even if the score is 1-10, if you know you made that 1 point as a result of all of your hard work, you don’t care about the score, you’re ecstatic to see the result of doing your best, and that feeling can live for a long time.
          The biggest satisfaction can come from knowing you did your best and played well. Likewise, the biggest dissatisfaction can come from knowing you were held back. It can come from knowing that you and the team could do better, but someone like the coach or another player is pulling you down. Whether it be from a bad formation, to horrible calls from the refs, to a player blowing up at his teammates and discouraging them. The best teams that you enjoy playing for are the ones who like to do their best while encouraging those weaker to get better. They are the ones who practice teamwork to its finest even if they never win. They are a team on and off the field. They are the ones who play with honor.
           It is necessary to remember that in the face of defeat, you need to keep on fighting. You need to go like the Spartans at Thermopylae; like the Rohirrim riding to Minas Tirith, with no hope of victory. The best games are when the two opponents fight head to head at their best and a victor finally emerges. No one really cares about a game that ends up being 10-1. The fans of the winner might enjoy it for a while, but it doesn’t stick. The games that end up being 2-1 with great plays throughout the match from both sides are the epics that stay in the minds for years to come.
This is what makes movies like Rocky, Little Big League, or Cool Runnings so great. They didn’t win, but they lost with honor. They did their best, and went all the way. I recently played a chess match against my old teacher. He won, but I enjoyed the match because I played my best and fairly.
           Likewise, as important as it is to lose with honor, it is likewise necessary to win with honor. To win by cheating will plant a seed of doubt in your mind saying you don’t deserve the victory and you couldn’t have done it without cheating. Even if you win fairly, if it wasn’t by doing your best, you will only look back at it as a waste of time.
           If you remember this, then even if you lose poorly, you can look back and say, “I enjoyed that game. I lost, but I did my best, my team worked hard. It’s just their day today. I will like to play them again, because that was fun.” And the other team may think similarly.

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