“Winning isn’t everything

February 3, 2019 Critical Thinking

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” is a well-known quotation in sports. It is attributed to football coach Henry Russell Sanders (Wikipedia).
Many individuals are consumed with winning. Winning is not everything to them; it is the only thing. This may be part of their make-up and are strongly influenced by tiger parents, teachers, friends, role models and sponsors.
Many individuals will do anything to win. They will work hard and spend hours everyday training for a competition because they are determined to win. A handful will even cheat, take banned performance-enhancing drugs or intentionally injure an opponent in order to secure a victory, albeit a hollow one.
Winning is important. Lose a match and you could lose your job, lifestyle and sponsorship.
Winning has a string of positive points. What is the point of playing sports if you do not want to win? If individuals, nations, or groups were not driven by the thought of winning, it is highly likely they would feel their talents were wasted.
Winning may bring fame, fortune, glamour and a comfortable retirement. Athletes may receive promotion, wage rise and bonus pay through winning. They may also receive scholarships and gold, silver or bronze medals.
Winning not only brings euphoria but boosts self-confidence and self-worth. To win means being top, being successful and feeling superior to your competitors.
Winners are crowd pullers. People flock to see Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton, Roger Federer, Mo Farrah, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and other top achievers. Their every move or word is scrutinized.
Winning also brings pride to families, teachers, schools and communities. Winning helps many achieve their ultimate ambition, become philanthropists and make a difference to people’s lives. They generate money for charity and do useful work in the community. They help house the homeless and feed the famished. They constantly appear on the media and lend their names to big projects. They are social lions and are instantly recognizable.
Winning is a powerful motivator. It provides the drive, the courage and the determination to athletes to work harder, put in their best effort and win.
However, negative aspects of winning are well documented. Winning can make some winners egotistic, arrogant and complacent.
Although many participants might take part in a game, only a tiny few would come out winners with the first or top prize. The rest may feel shame, guilt, disappointment and depression. Some may give up sports altogether because they did not win. Many parents can make the situation worse by asking their son or daughter who comes home from a match ‘Did you win’? rather than ‘How did you play?’
No one should be afraid of failure; failure is a good thing. It is the mother of success. It is the first step to success. Imagine how many boxers or footballers lose their first few matches and eventually make it to the top?
Losing is a learning process. The process of learning is more important than winning. Losing encourages self-reflection and encourages people to review their performance, identify mistakes and actions for improvement. Losing also teaches people how to be humble.
Winning is not everything because it is not something that matters most to you. There will be further opportunities to participate in other matches, performances and competitions. It is not necessary to win every contest in order to feel good about yourself. You should be satisfied that you did the best you could given the circumstances. You should not have to justify yourself by securing a trophy.
Winning is a natural instinct. Who does not like glory? However, only a few win contests. Most other participants do not. Attitudes need to change. We should stop seeing a contest as a win-lose situation. Winning is not what real life is. Instead we should concentrate on encouraging people to participate in competitive activities. This is more important than winning. We need to participate in activities for reasons other than winning to keep fit, to build skills, to increase our well-being and have fun. It would be nice to win but we just should not make winning the most important thing. Teachers, parents and patrons should reinforce the idea that winning is not everything and certainly not ‘the only thing’, as claimed by Sanders and win or lose life must go on.