Winning and losing is part of life! Recently, I watched Super Bowl XLVII and Baltimore Ravens won. The city of Baltimore celebrated and the game goes into history. College sports have bowl games too, but how about the teams that don’t make it into a bowl? There are teams that never win! Can you imagine playing for a losing team? I will chronicle what one person is doing and what they learn from it.
I am not talking about a team that had a decent record and just didn’t make it into some bowl game. I found a team that almost never wins! When they do, it is on the local news. If it were just some anonymous school, it would probably be easier on the players. It happens to be Cal Tech which is one of the best engineering schools in the country. Could you play on a perennial losing team? Does it matter? Win or lose, do you learn the same things from sports?
I love playing games! I also love winning and hate losing. Recently, I read a Los Angeles Times article about Cal Tech’s baseball team losing their 108th game. I am not talking about close games either. Their teams are perennial losers! The featured player plays basketball and baseball. His record 11-108! Can you imagine playing on a team that is likely to lose every time yhry are on the playing field? College sports and sports in general celebrate wins and losses are soon forgotten.
It is part of sports to forget about losses so you can go on to that next win. What if you are constantly losing? How do you forget about the losses? Many people would say there is much more to learn from losses versus wins. What do you do when the wins are so far apart that there is no reinforcement for what you learned from your last loss? Do the participants learn more from losing when it is almost a way of life? Is there more to learn and celebrate from the occasional win?
One of the wins was breaking a 228 game losing streak for a ten (10) year period. That was one of the reasons; it was on the local news. Breaking a losing streak that was that long is certainly news, but what about the players who were on teams for years that lost. Does this experience make better people, employees, entrepreneurs, engineers or scientists? It is very unlikely that any of these players will go on to the NBA, NFL or MLB.
More importantly, they will be rocket scientists, engineers, computer scientists, entrepreneurs, problem solvers and successful. Do the games matter? Does their win/loss record matter? Of course not, but what have they learned? There is a great deal that is learned from losing versus winning, but what if you are always losing? These players certainly play for the love of the game because winning is probably not on the horizon. I presume that every player has different reasons for playing, but what have they learned?
There are tremendous life lessons learned from winning and losing in sports! What happens when you win so infrequently that losing goes on for years? I am reminded of the famous quote, “winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing” (Vince Lombardi). We celebrate winners, but losers learn too. In sports, we practice and play games. The discipline of practicing and performing even if you lose has value. If winning is so infrequent, it takes more effort, motivation and discipline to keep going under these circumstances.
Winning may no longer be the goal! Perhaps conditioning, personal improvement or teamwork may become the goal. Leadership and coaching may take over as goals versus winning. I think every player contributes to the team in different ways and each takes away something different from participating. I think being part of a sports team whether you win or lose, you will learn many skills that will help you in the future. I have never been part of a group that did not want to win, but there is more to learn when you lose.
According to the LA Times article, “In sports, I (Mason Freedman) learn about losing. I learn to make mistakes and get over them and move on. I learn there is always another game.” Maybe more of us should play on losing teams to learn this unique skill. I think he learns considerably more from losing, determination, discipline, conditioning and physical improvement. What they may not learn is how to win or celebrate. Does it matter? Is it more important to learn how to handle losses versus how to win?
Many of the graduates will go on to successful careers with the best companies, but not all will be number one in their industry. They will use what they learned in sports to be part of a team and company working toward goals and accomplish a great deal in their career. Winning in sports may be foreign to these players, but remember they have had success in their classes at a very prestigious university. Sports has added to their experience and will impact their future.
I have always felt that fifty percent (50%) of your college education is outside the classroom. It may be participating in sports, living in the dormitories, cafeterias, student government, fraternities/sororities and personal relationships. Winning/losing, ups/downs and the rigor of academic pursuit are just some of the things you can learn in college. All college students make decisions what they participate in college and they all learn from these experiences. Are these experiences with a losing team make these players better for the experience? I think so! What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Winning and losing is part of life!
Photo by: Monica’s Dad
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Winning and losing is part of life!