Losing: The downside to sports

I knew it was going to be a rough day as soon as we took the court for warm-ups. Our team could barely make a lay-up, we were shooting air balls like it was going out of fashion. We couldn’t even set-up a legitimate warm-up drill.

The opposition on the other hand, were throwing down dunks and hitting jumpers with what seemed like hardly any effort.

This translated directly to the court. The result? A 98-4 loss. I guess that’s what happens when a bunch of guys get together to form a basketball team to represent your school with no coach. Needless to say, the team disbanded only a few more losses later.

I’ve certainly been on my fair-share of losing teams over the 15 or so years I played sport. And over the last few years, we’ve certainly seen some losing on the STU side of things, none more emphatic than the 104-6 drubbing the women’s rugby team suffered againt
I played rugby for five years while I lived in England. Our team was fairly successful, but we always had that one team who would just tear us apart and that was Grantham. They use to crush us every game.

I kid you not, but the only reason we were happy to play them was because they were a private school. And that meant after the game we got fed a huge dinner and man, it was always good. It didn’t matter if we had just lost 55-7 or whatever, the meal made the trip alone worth it.

There was another team we use to play, although the school’s name passes me, but they had this one kid who we named ‘hamburger boy.’ Quite self-explanatory really. He was massive. I remember one time his team got a penalty at the five meter line. Instead of kicking the penalty or taking a scrum, they decided to do a tap start where they made a pop pass to hamburger boy who was running full steam at us.

Our method to tackling this guy? One of our players jumped on his back, while five or six other guys tackled him down at the waist and legs. We were able to successfully do it a few times, but hamburger boy got the better of us far too often and that resulted in us getting whooped.

In England we have something called the mercy rule. When a team gets up by 50 points the game’s called. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 75th minute or the 35th minute, it’s done.

Safe to say, I’ve experience that a few times over the years.

My grammar school team – yes I went to grammar school in England – was made up of guys who genuinely played rugby. A large number of us, including myself, had tryouts with the Leicester Tigers academy rugby union team. We were far from scrubs, but as with any team, we lost our share of games too.

Maybe if we practiced union rules instead of league we may have been more successful at the breakdowns. It never ceased to amaze me when our coach got angry at us for not winning many mauls. “Maybe if we practiced them we’d be better!” was what I was often left thinking.

Nevertheless, it’s all about improving. You have to lose to improve. If you win every game by a comfortable margin you become complacent and that isn’t good moving forward.

Look, losing is part of sports. It makes you learn from past mistakes, it allows for room to improve.

But losing is never a fun experience and that can be rest assured, especially when you’re getting blown out.

Yep, I’ve been on the end of that too many times over the years.

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