My mother had a thing about being strong enough to be a good loser. When I lost the biggest tennis match of my early years, she said that she was incredibly proud that I ran to the net with a smile on my face to congratulate my opponent and that to her that was winning in the bigger scheme of things. I only forced that smile because I had been brought up on this philosopy and knew that she would be absolutely gutted if I ran off the court bawling crying and breaking my racket, just like I felt like doing.
This whole issue has stayed with me over the years and I am still a bit mixed up about what constitutes winning and losing. It has come to the fore again with the US Election and what seems like Donald Trump being a poor loser, in Mother’s scheme of things. Maybe he has some elements of right on his side and feels/is justified in believing that the game isn’t over. Or maybe, he’s a bad loser and is breaking rackets like a man possessed.
It’s said that no one ever remembers who came second but a big question lies in the lengths people are prepared to go to win. If someone wins fairly, then I think they and everyone else should be able to see and accept that. However, winning may not always be as clearcut as that especially when we enter the realm of loopholes, mind games and favoritism. If you win because you’ve used some underhand method, like canvassing for a job, have you really won or have you just sold your soul?
I spent years driving passed a big poster thing in Waterford City that had those lines about ‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul.’ They would stay in my head for amost the 100 miles to Dublin and they are still in it.
My latest thoughts on all this have brought me to unlikely combinations in people’s lives. The most striking example is that of England and Manchester United soccer star, Marcus Rashford, who is engaged in hard-nosed elite sport on the one hand, yet has shown an incredibly socially conscious side in advocating for free meals for disadvantaged kids, like he once was.
Is it a matter of some people being able to flick switches between different aspects of their lives and being able to see how winning and losing are not as clearcut as we are often led to believe.