Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

Pat Forde of ESPN who pens the "Forde Yard Dash" that I like to think is the "clean" version or professional take at what your own MMQ does wrote an interesting article on the agony of defeat.

And of course, his story immediately hit home with me. Actually, Ivan Maisel's story, quoting the new QB coach Rick Neuheisel at the University of Colorado after the first "horror" game involving Kordell Stewart and Michael Westbrook, two names I would rather not have committed to memory, hit me even harder. Because, anyone reading this knows and has had to live with that scene with 0:00 on the Michigan clock and seeing a 70 yard bomb find it's way to the South End Zone for a Colorado victory.

If I had to measure the euphoric high against the all time lows, I'm not sure how I could do it or to explain how the "punch in the gut" feels. Yes, beating the Suckeyes in 1997 was euphoria. But, it almost seemed like sweet relief, too. All the years of rooting for and supporting your team culminating in what you had hoped for since you watched your first Michigan game. An undefeated season to hang your hat on. To be part of the "Us too!" club of National Champions. Of course, that would come later in Pasadena, but every Michigan fan knows that we won the National Title in the Big House on that 3rd Saturday in November. But that 70 yard bomb, the App state horror, Sparty's cheating ways for last second victories, a Texas Field goal from 38 yards or a lateral to Breaston that wasn't against Nebraska are all painful reminders of the humiliation and agony of losing. So, why is losing so gut wrenching? Why is the pain of loss so much easier to recall? And why is a devestating loss so much more hurtful and lingering (App State) than a huge underdog victory (Notre Dame - 2009)? I really don't know. Except I will agree with the sentiment in Forde's article:

We are wired to be winners. From the time you're born, if you have good parents, teachers and coaches, you're instructed and shown ways to win. And you start to believe you're a winner - until you lose. When you lose, it reinforces the goal of why you wanted to be a winner in the first place. So winning becomes acceptable and expected; Losing is intolerable to the point of depression and ultimately, pain.

So, is it better not to compete? Or rather, should we all take being fans a little less seriously than we currently do? I for one cannot turn it off. I have rationalized and reasoned with myself that the athletic activities of a University should have absolutely no bearing WHATSOEVER on my well being or the relationship with my Wife, children, friends and coworkers. Winning and losing simply aren't that big a deal. Get on with your life. You have a lot to be thankful for and a lot going for you: Family, health and home.

Yet, deep down, I know it's all a lie. I know that I will be internally miserable for exactly one week if we lose until we get a shot at winning again. But when we win, I simply exist and believe that's what SHOULD have happened in the first place. I'm a winner. Michigan's a winner. They should win.

So, when Forde suggests that we need to take ourselves a little less seriously and look at the fact that for every conference champion there's at least 7 losers and for every National Champion there's 119 losers so there's a lot of company for the misery out there.


I could give a shit about the other losers. I want to WIN AND WIN RIGHT FRIGGIN' NOW!

Sorry...Internal rationalization just doesn't work for Slappy's....

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