Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” This is apparently how some football coaches view the world, but lately it seems that many Americans have adopted Vince’s view of life. The old maxim “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” is no longer in fashion.

Another habit of speech that seems to have taken over in the past four years is the conversion of verbs, such as “winning” and “losing,” into proper nouns, such as winners and losers. Of course every contest, from athletics to bake-offs to political elections, is designed so that someone must win and others must lose. Otherwise, the contest would never be over. But winning and losing are not really character traits. Everybody occasionally wins and loses something or other.

The act of winning or losing says very little about what kind of person you are. Because no one ever wins or loses all the time, we should probably pity the person who defines himself or herself as a winner or loser. Defining yourself as a winner only sets you up for shame when you lose. Defining yourself as a loser only keeps you from trying to do your best.

Indeed, one might say that learning how to lose is a more important lesson than learning how to win.

Terry Templeman


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