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Sharing the memory of my first column in the newspaper circa 1990

Updated on January 22, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth has been a member of HubPages for five years. He is retired from a 23-year career in the weekly newspaper business.

Now I invite you to travel

with me back in time to 1990. This was a special time for me. I had been out of work and out of the newspaper business for two years and my good pal, Les Walters (e.g. "Yes, Virginia, There Are Sin Eaters"-hub) had been named managing editor of the Journal Record in our hometown of Hamilton, Ala., and he offered me a job.

What would you have done, said no? I jumped at the chance. I was comfortable with his invitation and it sure beat drawing unemployment. Those who have been this road (drawing unemployment) can testify that I am right. I mean, by way of brief explanation, in Alabama, one must prove to the Alabama Dept. of Employment that he or she is not employed. Your word is no good here, soldier. You have to visit store (and plant) managers, anyone you know who might hire you and if they decline, you must write their name on this form and mail it back to the Alabama Dept. of Employment.

Don't sit there so smugly and say piece of cake, for like I said, if you haven't traveled this road, you are much better off. Why? Don't ask for I do not want to "hog" my hub space in mundane text about why drawing unemployment is so tough.

Losing would breed new bumper sticker printing companies to  hire the jobless
Losing would breed new bumper sticker printing companies to hire the jobless | Source
Then-Alabama head coach, Gene Stallings
Then-Alabama head coach, Gene Stallings | Source

One of the duties of my job

that my friend, Les offered me was writing my own column for the paper on a bi-monthly basis. Boy, was I excited. I had written some stories before I left this newspaper in 1984, but my own column, wow, is the best exclamation I can use.

It was a week or two since I had rejoined Les and his staff and he had not mentioned my column since. So being (at that time) a person with some measure of initiative, I wrote myself what I thought would be a blockbuster of a first column. The name of the piece: "Crimson Tide's Sorry Record: What's Wrong With Losing?" It was hilarious to me and and after showing it to one of our intern's, I do not know if he said that he liked the column or not. All I caught was his response, "when you show this to Les, do not use my name," whatever that meant.

Frankly then and frankly today, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the column. I simply elaborated on The Crimson Tide football program's poor winning/losing record and with then-head coach, Gene Stallings, I thought I was doing this storied football program a favor by giving them some free publicity.

 Image from page 224 of  "Bizarre" 1912 Titus makes  flying tackle after chicken  Losers defined
Image from page 224 of "Bizarre" 1912 Titus makes flying tackle after chicken Losers defined | Source

Then I realized

that if Les had published "that" column, I might have not been here writing this today for as Les explained (sternly) that I had not thought about the massive amount of Crimson Tide fans we had in Hamilton and our county of Marion. And since the paper was a county-wide paper, well, I guess he knew that if that column had made it to print, the phones along with our mailing address would be chocked full of angry Tide fans cursing the paper (and me) for running such a piece.

Needless to say, I did not get to publish "that" column. And when Les patiently told me the formula for a personal column, I thought about his advice and wrote about a safe subject: "Why People Loved "CHIPs and Samantha's Twitches on Television." Les did run that one and no angry people calling (or writing) with curse words.

But the thing is, I want to present much of the copy that made up my never-published column about "Crimson Tide's Sorry Record: What's Wrong With Losing?" I think since you have followed how and what I write about, you should get a kick out of this piece.

And my headline will remain unchanged: "Crimson Tide's Sorry Record: What's Wrong With Losing?"

Note: the foundation of my column was actually aimed at then-Bama head coach, Gene Stallings, whose non-glam offense was not doing well. Coach Stallings literally hated for his quarterbacks to use a pass play. Stallings' "Old School Book of Lackluster Offense" was not setting well with fans nor the Alabama Board of Trustees. Stallings' system of play calling did instantly become a hit with opposing defensive coordinators for the selection of plays that he used was: "Run off right tackle," "Run off left tackle," "Fullback up the middle," and Punt. That was easy for The Tide's opponents to stop and score yet another victory while Tide fans (me included) had to be good losers.

Then-Alabama head coach Gene Stallings carried off of he field in the 1993 Sugar Bowl  for engineering a National Championship for the Tide in a 34-13 rout of Miami
Then-Alabama head coach Gene Stallings carried off of he field in the 1993 Sugar Bowl for engineering a National Championship for the Tide in a 34-13 rout of Miami | Source
Publicity shot for MGM Records in 1951
Publicity shot for MGM Records in 1951 | Source
The Okasions from  Wilson North Carolina  had a hit song in 1968  with "I'm a Girl Watcher"
The Okasions from Wilson North Carolina had a hit song in 1968 with "I'm a Girl Watcher"
Lucas Ana Carolina      People would start laughing more  complaining less with a mindset of being a loser
Lucas Ana Carolina People would start laughing more complaining less with a mindset of being a loser | Source
 Announcement of 2016  Nobel Peace Prize on  NRK broadcast, but you, as a loser, could be up for this prestigious award
Announcement of 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on NRK broadcast, but you, as a loser, could be up for this prestigious award | Source

Honesty Question: Have you ever in your life been called a loser?

See results

Question: Just what is wrong with losing?

The only reasons that leap to mind are these:

  • Pride--no one in their right mind actually "loves" to come in last or not at all.
  • Public opinion--who likes to hear, "Here comes "Ol' Loser" each week of their lives?
  • Achievement--when you lose, what have you really achieved?
  • Peace of mind--this might be the only bright spot to losing since you know from week to week that your team will lose and you will not have that turmoil of hearing the sportswriters' cameras whir and answering all of those annoying questions like: That was some game, coach? How did you really do it?

Losing and losers examined

When you really sit down and honestly examine the terms, losing and losers, actually the only thing that hurts is that name, loser. And your losses going on your record at the school you happen to play or coach for at the time. So if coaches would approach only these two terms and drill it into their teams that losing is not the end of the world and that a good education is far more important than beating your most-hated rival each year, you might be the first in college (or pro) football to be fired after the first two games of the season, but "fired" is for another story.

  • When a troublemaker shouts, "Hey there, loser! Need some advice on how you might win?" we all grimace with embarrassment. We shouldn't let it get under our skin for the old saying about "sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us," is really true. No one, coach, player, fan, has ever died from losing a game to someone else. There have been recorded deaths of sore losers who got into fist fights with gloating winners who knew to bet against the home team and take the diehard fans' money, but not for the mere fact that your team lost again for the eighth time in a row.

Ways to become a good loser:

  • Learn to smile although you do not feel like smiling. This is the mark of a good loser.
  • Force yourself to shake hands with the winning team and coaches. (See video below).
  • While you are in public and seen by many people, do not show your hurt from being beaten to the ground by a much-more superior team. Wait until you are in private to vent your hurt.
  • Stand in front of a mirror and say out loud, "I am a good loser," in a repetitious manner each day. Before long, you will actually believe what you are saying and be able to lose at any competitive game anywhere. And boy, will you be proud of yourself.
  • Let your losing record and mindset work for you. This is very unorthodox, but think about it. Our American society has been geared for what? Winning and at any cost for many years. And when we lose, it always hurts. So turn that hurtful energy into a positive outlook on you being a loser. Wear specially-printed tee-shirts that say proudly to the world, "Look at me. I am proud to be a loser." Will people laugh and gawk at you? You bet. Some might call you a vulgar name, but in time, they will see that you are a much better person for building upon your mindset as being a loser.

Areas where your loser mindset will affect:

  • Social life--you get a date with the pretty new receptionist in your office. You, being a stand-up guy, agree to meet her parents out of respect. Watch what happens.

Pretty girl: "Mom. Dad, this is "Larry," whom I met at work."
Mom, Dad.:"Hi, 'Larry' Our "Judith' has told us a lot about you."
You: "Oh, yeah? (laughs) Did she tell you that I am a bona fide, card carrying loser?"

"Judith's" mom and dad are stunned. They look at each other then at "Judith." Then the two look at you standing in their living room with your hands out as to ask what did I say wrong?
You may or may not get to take "Judith" to Deny's for the Pickled Steak Special, but that depends on her age. If she is at or above legal age, she will go with you.

  • Workplace--"Larry," you are sitting at your desk one morning and your phone rings.

"Hello, this is 'Larry. I am a loser,' speaking. Who do you need?"
Company CEO:"you, you doofus! I need you to come up to my office at once. Loser! We have no time for jerks like you."

  • Ministry--if this is where your calling lies. You may not have a long ministry depending on how you announce yourself on the first Sunday where you will deliver your first message to this new church.

You: "Good morning. My name is 'Bro. Penningly,' and I am a firm believer in losing and living out the mindset of being a loser."

By now you should hear coughs, throats clearing, and see church members with looks of shock on their faces. Enjoy your ministry and time at this church. Who knows? Maybe the believers here will welcome you to their open arms for they do not judge anyone including losers.

  • Military--you and your company are being inspected by the base commander. You are standing at attention, but what makes you stand out is that goofy look on your face. This comes from years of training and developing yourself from having a winning personality to being a complete loser.

Commander: "Atttennntion!"
(then he slowly walks in front of you and your fellow soldiers to inspect your appearance).
"Soldier! What's the meaning of this?"
You: "Sirs, I meant, sir, what meaning of what?"
Commander: "The dried eggs on your uniform which is wrinkled to boot! Why, soldier?"
You: "Duhhh, ya' see, sir, I am a loser. I know that I am a loser. My sergeant knows that I am a loser along with the fellas in this company, so I guess having a clean, starched uniform is what us losers wear, uhhh, sir."

Out of respect for the hard-working HubPages editors, I will not write what happens to you.

Good things losing can produce:

  • New companies--and our economy will appreciate those new companies like bumper sticker printing companies who hire the unemployed helping to lower your town's unemployment rate. Losing "can" be a benefit, not a badge of shame.
  • New trends--that will catch on throughout your area. Proof: we know that people in our country are always curious to try or be something new, right? Now who in their right minds would dare stand up in public places and declare that they are so proud of their loser sons and daughters being on a losing team with a sorry winning/losing record. Proud, I tell you. This will be such a shock to the already-programmed to win at any cost, that you will be invited to talk to ladies social and civic clubs, be a guest on local talk shows and be the topic of feature stories published in your local newspaper.
  • Stress-free--lives not only with the loser coach and team, but fans and boosters as well. No stress from winning the big game. Now all of those worries are gone thanks to your new way of looking and thinking about losing.
  • Personal successes--will soon come to you for if you like to write, why not write a book about "losing?" Tell the unvarnished truth. Do not hold back anything. You will surely have money to burn from all of the book sales. Sure, to be honest, there will be "those" finger-pointers and nay sayers who try to bring you down, but you are the one who is popular and now got pockets of money.
  • New friends--will start popping up in your life as if by magic. You see, when you were winning, somehow these new friends felt inferior to you for they knew how to lose and you didn't thus, a wall, if you will, was separating you from them. Not now. No, sir. You can have new friends who know how to lose and as an added benefit, they will be more than glad to teach you the finer things about losing.

Hit songs that you can rename and re-record:

  • "I'm a Girl Watcher" by The Okasions in 1968, can be renamed to "I'm a Good Loser."
  • "Coward of The County" by Kenny Rogers can be renamed by you to "The Loser of The County."
  • "Monday, Monday," by The Mamas and Papas will now be called "Loser, Loser."
  • "Lovesick Blues," by Country Music legend, Hank Williams, Sr. will NOT be changed to anything you and your new-found mindset and lifestyle of losing and being a loser. Some things should not be tampered with and this is one of them.

Of course

as most college football fans know, in 1992, then-Crimson Tide head coach, Gene Stallings, and his team had a near-perfect season of 11-1, losing on to the powerful Florida Gators. The season ended with Alabama bringing home a National Championship by defeating the Miami Hurricanes in the 1993 Sugar Bowl in dominant manner 34-13.

Stallings stayed on for three more seasons at the University of Alabama to oversee the needed-changes to his staff that alumi and fans had been crying about for months. Mike DuBose, then-defensive coordinator was promoted to head coach by then-Athletic director, Bob Bockrath, who gave in to an email storm that demanded DuBose be promoted as the head man.
Bill "Brother" Oliver, the defensive guru who had designed the perfect defensive scheme to hold the Miami Hurricanes to only 13 points, left to take the same position at Bama nemesis, Auburn University who had just fired Terry Bowden for several infractions that caught the eye of the NCAA. Homer Smith, the man who eat, drank and slept offense, left Tuscaloosa for the last time thanks to Stallings not giving him the free reign to design the right offensive plans that Bama fans had wanted.

Gene Stallings knows both how to be a loser and a winner. Wonder which title has served him best?

Good night, Amarillo, Texas.

The Good Loser

This video is entitled: "That Guy Riffs"

and was uploaded on YouTube via LeisureSuitRantFiend

© 2017 Kenneth Avery


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, RoadMonkey,

      You make a valid point about winning and losing. I have been more on the losing side than the winning and with each loss, I die a little. And that ain't fun!

      Did you like my northwest Alabama slang?

      I hope so. Come back anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Sakina :)

      Thank you, Dear Friend, for your sweet comment. And I am so glad

      that you enjoyed this piece.

      I feel the same toward your work.


    • RoadMonkey profile image


      2 years ago

      Interesting. Being a good loser when you lose is important but so is picking yourself right back up and dusting off your belief, "I am a winner". Success is picking yourself up one more time than you fell down! As you show, no one wants to believe or tell others that they are a loser.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 

      2 years ago from Kuwait

      Wow! That's quite a memory to share buddy. I loved reading this piece. Great job. :)


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