Playing to Win

People who say they only play sport for fun are kidding themselves. Or are just not very good at their chosen sport. Because, the whole point of every sport ever invented is to beat someone. Scores, times, distances. Sports are designed to show who is the most successful competitor on a particular day.

I am one of those people who plays to win. A casual hit of tennis, mini golf against a 5-year-old, hell even card games, I am determined to win. Let me clarify though, I don’t go to extreme measures to win- I don’t take performance enhancing drugs and I don’t cheat. If my and my team’s efforts can’t get the win fairly, then it doesn’t count in my mind. Admittedly I have softened as I have gotten older and don’t mope around if I lose for as long as I once did. But given the choice of winning and losing, I still prefer to win.

Why do we want to win? With the finals season of netball and football leagues well and truly underway, this question becomes even more pertinent. I (and I’m sure most other players in the local CMFNL and GRFL) will freely admit that the world doesn’t become a better place because our team ended up getting the 4 points at the end of the day. We are not worse people because our team finished on the bottom of the ladder, nor are we better people because we got to hold the premiership trophy at the end of the season.

I know why I want to win. Even though I know that me winning only matters to myself, my teammates and some devoted supporters, it’s the satisfaction of seeing the scoreboard in my team’s favour at the end of the day. Knowing that all the work I have put in training, coaching and playing has something to show for it. And it’s the same for anyone who has worked hard at something, whether it be sport, career, family or knitting. Seeing the final result go in your favour is hugely satisfying.

I also know how much it sucks to lose. However, I also know that the world will keep spinning and life will go on. But for those ten minutes (or longer as was the case after losing our semi-final on the weekend), life just seems to suck more than it ought to. And yes, I know that there are people out there with worse issues than losing a netball game. And this is what makes me so curious as to my earlier question- why DO we want to win?

Regardless if it is lifting extra weights than the bloke next to you, passing that runner up ahead on your morning run or beating your 3-year-old nephew in quoits, the feeling of pride and achievement is often enough to keep on making you want to improve and do even better next time. And maybe that’s why it’s a good thing that people want to win. The skills are transferable-  continuously setting higher goals can benefit other aspects of their life. However, don’t get me wrong, just because you win doesn’t make you a productive and valuable member of society; I know of sports people who don’t set goals for themselves in other parts of their life. But these are also the people who rock up to training late, don’t do the extra rehab to get them ready for the weekend, and who are happy to share the glory of the team’s wins with minimal additional effort on their behalf.

Acknowledging your success and being proud of the hard work and resulting achievements is all well and good. But there is something you need to be mindful of when you are a winner. You have to be a gracious one. All of your hard work, dedication and sacrifices will be disregarded the moment you start going around waving your medal in your opponents’ faces. By all means you can tell people you won, but don’t go banging on about it in the staff room when you return to work. Because remember, the only people that care that you won, are you, your teammates and a couple of die-hard supporters. Keep it in perspective- you haven’t found the cure to cancer.

Good luck to the Golden Rivers Football League Finalists playing this weekend at Murrabit and to the CMFNL teams playing this weekend at Tooleybuc in the Preliminary Finals. We eagerly await to see the results of these finals!

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