Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Unfair World of Winning and Losing

In this crazy world, sometimes reality can be very cruel. In the game of life, winners are worshiped. Losers are scorned, spurned, and shipped out like unwanted trash.  Nowhere is this more evident than the world of sports where top sports clubs or teams change their managers or coaches the moment they fail to win the championship. We are almost one month away from the World's Most Popular Tournament, to be held in South Africa. The game of soccer. It has reaped millions of dollars for winners. It has also created a lengthy list of 'losers' who have been unceremoniously shipped out due to the failure to win enough glory for the club or country.

The latest evidence of such an unfair world is in Europe. The one popularly referred to as the 'special one,' Jose Mourinho, has just led his club, Inter Milan to glory, winning Europe's top club competition called the UEFA Champions League 2010. Almost immediately, Mourinho openly expresses his wish to coach another top Spanish team, Real Madrid. Such a wish is an automatic count-down to the demise of the existing Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini. After all, everybody like winners. Mourinho is a winner, having just won another Champions League victory. Pellegrini is a clear loser, who has not helped his club won a major trophy during his short 9-month tenure. He complains that he has not been given the 'backing' he needs to help the club succeed.

I see the highly popular English Premier League in the UK also being victimized by the 'winner' syndrome. In such a winner-takes-all scenario, there is very little room for trial and error. With so much money demanded of even the poorest club, only the richest and the meanest survive. What is more troubling is that the game of soccer at the EPL has become a money-talks-loudest game. It is no longer a game to promote the game of sports. It is a game where only the richest clubs who can afford to practically 'buy' whatever trophy they have with their money.

Since coming to Canada, I have been intrigued by the Canadian infatuation over the game of ice-hockey. With so many nights of hockey telecast live on TV, it is only a matter of time, any newbie to hockey will take notice of this sports. For me, what is most fascinating is not the game itself, but the ongoing commentary, especially the discussion panel AFTER the game. No matter how well a team plays, when they fail to win, commentators will say the most negative things about them. Criticisms tend to follow a numerical scale as well.   The greater the number of goals lost, the greater the criticisms. On the other hand, all it takes is one winning goal, and the commentators will be full of cheer and praise for the winning team. From goaltenders to the most ineffective skater on the ice, reporters tend to say the most positive things about the winning team.

I shudder and shake my head when such things happen. It only tells me that the game of sports has deteriorated to the point where only winners mean something. Gone are the days of brave sportsmanship. Gone are the times where healthy competition is promoted. Gone are the moments of encouraging all to do their best.

Why must the world discriminate so much between winners and losers? If there are no other competitors, what is the meaning of winning? Why should winners by themselves get all the glory?

Perhaps, as viewers and consumers of sports events, we should learn to let our money do the talking. For that, I will refuse to sign on more sports channels. Maybe, once my current subscription is up for renewal, I might even think twice about dropping some.

Winning is important. However, when winning becomes the sole ambition, the only reason for playing,the meaning of sportsmanship is undermined. When that happens, nobody wins.


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