Celebrating our losses

It doesn’t matter much to me that the Cubs lost the second game of the NLCS yesterday. What I will remember is Baez’s very smart play where he let the ball bounce before fielding it, to create a double play. Years from now, you don’t remember exactly what games were won, and in what order. Can you remember the exact wins or losses from the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS? Likely you remember Bartman–an event. But do you remember the win-losses of each game? The Marlins won the first game, remember that? Probably not.

Last year the Cubs defeated the Cardinals in the division series. Looking back, the Cubs won the series 3-1. I didn’t even remember that the Cardinals won the first game. But you know what I do remember? Kyle Schwarber’s homerun that landed on the videoboard! It’s the specific plays we remember, not the win-loss tally.

The 1989 playoffs, I don’t remember how many games the Cubs lost by. But I do remember Mark Grace and Will Clark both having an incredible series.

In the 2016 division series, the Cubs lost a 13-inning game to the Giants. I will remember Bryan’s carbomb that tied the game up in the top of the ninth against the premeire closer Sergio Romo.

This year I’ve been saying that in addition to celebrating our wins, we should also be celebrating our losses. Let’s look for the positives in a game, and not be so focused on winning. Whatever happened to the phrase we would teach kids, “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” At what point in our lives does this no longer matter? Why stop adhering to this principal of how we live our lives is more important than the result? Winning is NOT everything. Yet we hear athletes over and over again saying, “I play to win. I’m only here to win.”

Sure, this is an attempt at humility. Putting the team before yourself. Humility in sports is certainly to be praised. But the humility has to have the right intention. Saying you only want your team to win really isn’t an act of humility. It’s saying you want your group of people to be more important than another group of people.

I hope we play sports for the challenge of performing our best, win or lose. We don’t play solely to win. If we lose, we should celebrate the great performances in our losses.

It’s like if all of the sudden your team didn’t score as many runs, that people’s attitudes completely change about the game. Everything is seen through a lens of negativity. Everything they did was not good enough, or bad. But certainly there are moments in a loss where you can point to great effort. And if there isn’t great effort displayed, then we can take that as a lesson for ourselves to put in the effort to do our best. To appreciate others, despite the win or loss.

In my earlier examples of performances, I noted individual Cub players great accomplishments in various playoff series. I should also be noting the opponent’s great work as well. Watching sports with this sort of attitude of appreciating both sides efforts reduces your stress. It reduces your anger. It reduces your rage. We certainly don’t need more stress, anger, and rage in our lives.

It’s time to celebrate our losses and our opponent’s wins.

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Matt Maldre
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I have more to say about this topic of de-emphasizing wins, so there might be more blog posts about this in future.

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