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A well-known football coach once stated, “Winning isn’t whatever, it’s the only thing.” Do you concur or disagree with this declaration? Compose an essay in which you state your position and support it with convincing reasons.
The buzzer sounded, and the opposing team began to cheer. A girl stood behind the serving line, volleyball still in hand, and allowed her anger to swell. Her group had just lost– and by almost 10 points. She had tried to conserve the day as she stepped to the serving line and, with under a minute to go, began pounding her terrifying underhands.
It was a futile attempt, though. She had actually handled to get her team just a couple of points prior to the video game ended. She had stopped working. The anger became too much to bear. She increased the ball onto the ground with all her strength and stormed away to deal with the other losers on her team.
This video game was not a playoff or a competition game. It was low school, college, or professional level. It was an eighth-grade regularseason game. And this woman was not one with a history of violence and even a violent nature. I was this upset professional athlete, and thus numerous others in our society, I was captivated with winning, caught up in thinking Vince Lombardi’s popular claim that “winning isn’t whatever, it’s the only thing.” If this holds true, I fear for the state of our athletes.
Allowing them to look for winning and just winning will cause them to miss what is really essential in the game and in life.
At some point in their lives, all athletes have played for the pure joy of the game. Even if it was just for a brief time in childhood, playing outside before dark, they were not playing to find out who was the best. Eventually, however, the idea of winning took over, with coaches pushing too hard from the sidelines and parents goading from the stands. Perhaps they overlooked these famous words: “It’s just a game.” Do not have to worry about a coach’s reaction to a bad call, a parent’s reaction to a lost game. Professional athletes should not have to consider tomorrow’s headline before they step onto the court. The game needs to be fun again—the emphasis on winning de-emphasized.
When athletes seek only victory, they often fail to reap any of the values the game may teach them or to acknowledge the benefits of losing. Athletic competition has more to offer than the glory that comes with a winning season. Think of the benefits we gain from being part of a team or from working alone to do our best—win or lose. Sports emphasize qualities such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, solidarity, and peace. In addition to these psychological benefits, sports also have obvious physical benefits.
The constant activity serves as great exercise, with multiple health benefits, regardless of the score. Although athletes do enjoy the positive energy obtained from winning, they should also recognize that there is something to be gained from losing. If all you ever do is win, it becomes harder to pinpoint your faults. Teams and individuals that frequently lose know what they need to develop in order to win. Also, if you never lose, how can you have compassion toward your opponents? Seasoned losers can understand how it feels to lose and can act appropriately when they win.
A common misconception about winning is that it is what you must do to have an impact on the game. Sometimes, though, it just takes a little class. Robert Johnson, one of the best basketball players our school has known, exemplifies this kind of sportsmanship. In one of last year’s final games, Robert fouled out—but on questionable calls from the referee. Not once did he express hostility toward the ref, even though he and his teammates were in danger of losing an important game. Finally, when the whistle blew for his fifth foul, Robert approached the official. Fans thought that at last he would give vent to his frustration. But not Robert; he reached out to shake hands with the man who had made the calls against him. Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan is famous for this kind Point 2.
To those who continue to believe that winning is the only thing, I ask, what is winning? Is it just being on the team with more points on the scoreboard at the end of the game? And when you use the term “only thing,” are you saying that winning is a priority over one’s faith, family, education, country, life, and happiness? Under these terms, I think anyone would agree, winning is not the only thing. Winning gives one a positive, empowering feeling. But it also can bring out the worst in people, as it did in me, a relatively calm person turned irrational at the loss of a minor volleyball game. We must not exaggerate the importance of winning, nor should we undermine the value of losing.
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