Suck it up and take the L

For several months in the US we've been treated ("treated") to the inevitable conclusion of what happens when you don't teach your children how to lose with dignity. Growing up playing sports, you get to see countless examples of the good and the bad when it comes to winning and losing--in yourself, in your teammates, in your opponents, in the superathletes who compete on TV.

We're often over-sported here in the US, I think, and the concepts of winning and losing in zero sum games bleed too much into the rest of life where outcomes are more complex than a mark in the W or L column. But up to some threshold the lessons learned are good ones. Respect the game. Respect your opponent. Respect the officials. Respect the supporters. Prepare well. Execute well. Win with humility. Lose with dignity.

Everyone who steps into the arena will lose, eventually. Over time, nobody bats 1.000, nobody shoots 100%. How a person handles a loss is a test of, and an insight into, their character.

You know the type: at the end of the game it's always the ref's fault, the other team cheated, the field was bad, the ball was wrong, the weather was unkind, something got injured, etc. Each of those things happens frequently enough, but never always, rarely in combination. And when they do, the probability is unlikely that they occurred in a game in which the players did not commit their own errors themselves. And when they do, it's up to you how you respond to it.

In sports, in life, sometimes you have to suck it up and take the loss. Acknowledge the loss, congratulate the winner, thank the supporters, and prepare for the next match. If you're not tough enough to lose with dignity, you're not tough enough to win.


And away we go:

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