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There's More to Winning and Losing Than Just Words of Congratulations and Comfort

Updated on January 3, 2015
My team
My team
Bama's vintage logo
Bama's vintage logo

January 2, 2015


Just to let you know, this is not my usual “Things Not To Do or Not Do” format. This is a short-study in losing. Not winning, but losing, which is a very common event that is very relative to all of us. Where race, political affiliation and color of car vary with each person, losing knows no racial boundary or personal lists of choices we make.

We’ve heard it all. The overly-used, annoying, terms associated with losing: “You can’t win ‘em all,” “There’s always next year,” “God made losing so we could appreciate winning,” and they are all great comfort-phrases to someone or a team of some ones who have completely-dedicated themselves, every waking hour, every breath taken, to winning that team’s trophy, division, or National Championship, and in today’s competition-driven society, mostly at any cost.

Sad, and shameful for groups of young athletes to drive themselves like Indy cars to just be “the best,” at their particular sport. “The best” atop all competition. “Glowing stars” whose sweet beams shine down on those who have fallen to their dirty faces in the mud of shame. That’s what winning and losing means to me in 2015.

Nick Saban, current Bama head coach
Nick Saban, current Bama head coach
Paul William "Bear" Bryant Alabama's (and college football's) winningest coach
Paul William "Bear" Bryant Alabama's (and college football's) winningest coach


And as for those comfort-phrases, I lied. These phrases are really cop-outs and really poor attempts of the tongue manufactured by tormented minds to just make the “loser,” if it be us or someone on our team, feel good if it be only for as long as the dreaded ride home. The silent ride home, I must say.

  • Facts are facts, and many times sharp as icicles and twice as cold. So here are a few of those facts that are so painful to remember, not even the facts about losing and losers are purposely-remembered.
  • Who, whether they live in the north, south, east or west, talks about who lost “the” big game? Or for that matter, who came in second in the yearly “Race of Champs?”
  • Why are losers never given silver and bronze plaques in a trophy case that sits in the main hallway of their high school or college?
  • Ever notice how the voice of the emcee heading-up the celebration of how a school worked so hard and yet lost the big champion game, is filled with so much dread of calling-up the players who came in second, that he or she can hardly form human words?


Question: Do you think people who lose get tired of hearing, “We are proud of you for how good you played?” Answer: Yes!

I mean, for the loser, that sounds nice, but isn’t a cure for the raw pain that fills their spirit. That’s the bottom line when it comes to those who work their butts off, not to win EVERY game, but “that one” championship game they have never won in ten long years.

Now for the ultimate “Make The Loser Feel Good” phrase: “Winning is not everything.” Oh, at the times I have heard this in my life. And yes, years ago, I grew sick of this phrase and the ones who are too quick to roll it off their tongues when a big sporting event is history and the team that played the fairest and hardest, lost, while the team who played so under-handed and sly, won it all. Okay. Then according to you, “Mr. or Ms. Feel Good,” with painted-on smile, if winning is not everything, then why are “you” at every game always supporting the dominant team? So to me right now, “winning (may not) be everything, but it is close.

For instance. The Northwestern Insurance Sugar Bowl played in the Super Dome in Baton Rouge on Thursday night, Jan. 2, 2015, pitting The University of Alabama (Crimson Tide) against The Ohio State Buckeyes. Both teams entered the game with equal 10-1 records.

Jim Tressel, former head coach of Ohio State
Jim Tressel, former head coach of Ohio State
Urban Meyer, Current head coach, Ohio State
Urban Meyer, Current head coach, Ohio State
Vintage Ohio State logo
Vintage Ohio State logo
Current Ohio State logo
Current Ohio State logo


Both teams are coached by true “masters” of collegiate football: Nick Saban, who already has won three National Championship Titles with the Crimson Tide and one with Louisiana State University (LSU). No college coach has yet to equal that feat. The Ohio State Buckeyes are coached by Urban Meyer whose coaching record is immaculate from Florida, where the Gators won a National Championship, and now to Ohio State where he replaced an embattled Jim Tressel who was the head coach until the NCAA nailed him for knowing about few of his players taking money for selling their college memorabilia, which is against NCAA rules. This infraction cost Tressel his job. Meyer said when he took over the head coaching position at Ohio State, “I am going to clean things up around here,” and so far, he has done a fine job.

The same accolades can be handed to Saban who has cleaned-up the, pardon my expression, trash, that other Tide coaches left behind when they were let go or resigned. No more gambling, taking cash from boosters and other things that Saban hates. He fully-drives his teams to be their personal, as well, as corporate best. One of his favorite phrases he has know to say on the first day of spring training is: “To all Blue Chip and Five-Star signees: You might have been “it” at your high school, but here, you are going to have to earn the position you are trying-out for.” In laymen’s terms: Saban, like the Marine Corp drill instructors in boot camp, he tears down the Blue Chip signees and rebuilds them into “his” mold—both in their personal and athletic lives.t

What it boils down to is this: I started loving The Crimson Tide in 1966 during the Paul “Bear” Bryant years. Some year’s were fat and some were lean. To use another powerless phrase, “that’ttes life.” And no, I still do not feel any better, in any area of my life, at Alabama’s loss to Ohio State 42-35. The mistakes Bama made were too many to cal led “errors,” and even Saban after the game, he did not feel good in the first half at how the Tide played.

Your turn . . .

Do YOU like the new Playoff System in College Football?

See results


Why I loved the Crimson Tide is simple. They had a team of down-to-earth players, humble-but-gritty. They were winners and knew how to win with a future “winningest coach in college football” holding the reigns. Warriors like Joe Namath; Kenny “The Snake” Stabler; Bart Starr and now, Blake Sims. And the second reason I grew to love the Tide is that “I” have never in my entire life been seen as a “winner.” I told you this was simple.

Winning at anything never came to me. But I did “break my heart” at trying. But trying has never got anyone any place on “winner’s row.” Even my parents were for me winning at something. Oh, the ONLY thing I ever won, if you can call winning a spelling bee we had in the second grade, winning something. But looking back, that “win” does not cut it.

When I would get to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide, I felt like “I” was on the gridiron with them—playing 60-minutes of college football and winning most of the time. Yes, it felt great to even be on the same team, even in the imaginary sense, so that when my Tide won, “I” won.

Sure, I congratulate Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes for playing a great game. And I congratulate Meyer for not being as smug and self-important as most of Alabama’s opponents and their coaches have been in the past. I won’t name names. No sense in it.

With The Ohio State Buckeyes meeting The Oregon Ducks on January 12, 2015, in Arlington, Texas in "Jerry World," The Dallas Cowboys Stadium to play for The National Title, the first-ever collegiate football world title of our new Playoff System in college footballool to determine the "real" winner and do away with all of the post-season bickering of who had the best record and why did this school land at number two while this school came in at number four?

At least that is how it's designed.

And although I know that Urban Meyer's Buckeyes will "play their hearts out," I also know that with the skill and talent, The Oregon Ducks will tear them to shreads. This might be a regular blood-bath, who knows?

And if it is . . ."that's life."


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Fantastic comment and very truthful also.

      I've always despise those sports reporters for asking that obviously-asinine question. I would pay a few hundred if once, an athlete would say, "Hey, I loved to get my butt beat. Losing is great, Tom! I cannot wait until next week when we get beat by the Eagles. Thanks, Tom."

      You and I think alike. Have a peaceful day.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 

      3 years ago from California

      Interesting article, Kenneth! It made me think of my niece and nephew who played sports in school. How many times did we say "Winning isn't everything!" But, really, losing hurts no matter how well you played or how much you got paid to play. I always hate those after game interview where some idiot interviewer asks "You lost the biggest game of the season. How do you feel right now?" do you think it feels? Winning does feel better, and maybe through our favorite team, we're able live it vicariously.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear annart,

      Thanks for your supportive-comment. And that money is in the millions for ONE athlete.

      Staggering to my mind.

      Thanks for visiting. I love it.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Yes, Kenneth, money makes a huge difference to competition!! Understood!


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear annart,

      I have no problem with your comments. In fact, they are taken with a lot of appreciation for summing-up the foundation of sports in general, but one thing I forgot: college football players enter "the money mill," the NFL where stress is higher and so is the pressure to please the club and fans to earn those huge millions.

      Thanks for your input. Love it.

      Faith Reaper:

      Yes' ma'am! Thank you! Roll Tide Roll!



      My sincere thanks to you for always making me feel worthwhile.


      I see your point. And I too am guilty of getting too caught-up in college football, but I wonder why I watch it when I am constantly-reminded of how I was never talented-enough to participate in playground ball when I was in school.

      I guess sometimes my life is but a vision unlived.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Great thoughts you have presented here, Kenneth.

      All I have to say is, "ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!" Woo hoo ...

      From another Bama fan,

      God bless

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      3 years ago from Hawaii

      Another awesome hub, Kenneth!

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      The thing to keep in mind about winning and losing in sports is that it's entertainment. Football players are entertainers. Maybe folks ought to examine why they get so emotionally involved with sports entertainers?

      Professional football is a bunch of very fit young men playing a game and a bunch of old guys talking about them playing a game. Personally, I'd rather play a game than watch other people play one.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      You've put forward a passionate argument here, Kenneth. I know nothing about this sport but I know that it has millions of die-hard followers.

      Winning is good but I truly believe that taking part is satisfying too. I suppose it depends on temperament but also on parental or peer pressure.

      I took part in tennis and netball tournaments and, yes, winning was the icing on the cake but I just enjoyed playing for the sheer fun of it. I am competitive on a one-to-one basis but not fiercely so; as long as I've given my all then I'm satisfied.

      I can understand those who are built up to believe that winning is the be-all-and-end-all. I suppose when you're driven by a team coach and there are other people's reputations at stake, it makes a difference.

      I don't like those meaningless phrases used to placate us either. It's pedantic and patronising.

      To me, sports are like life; some you win, some you lose and in that sense it's a healthy learning curve - as long as you get to win sometimes!

      Great hub to make us think!

      Happy New Year, Kenneth; hope it's good to you and yours.



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