The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat


Yesterday we witnessed both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the sports world.

American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978. Horse racing is not a sport that I follow, but it was hard not to get caught up in the drama leading up to the race and the excitement that followed after his victory. While first place in the Belmont Stakes was worth $800,000, it is estimated that American Pharoah’s value as a stud could now be around $50 million.

A few hours before American Pharoah raced into history, Tiger Woods was busy setting his own record, but not the type that leads to victory. Tiger shot an 85 in the third round of the Memorial Tournament, an event he has won five times. It was the worst 18-hole performance of Tiger’s career, and left him in last place. As a result, he had to tee off first today in the final round, all by himself.

But these two events highlight why I love sports. To get to the level of these two “athletes” required a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. But despite that effort, the outcome is never guaranteed, and you’ve got to learn to accept that and keep working to improve.

After today’s final round, Tiger was quoted as saying, “It’s one of those sports that’s tough, deal with it. For us, unfortunately, you have those days, they’re five hours long. Those are long, tough days.”

Plus, those are five hours where you are on public display, and the world gets to witness your worst day as a professional.

How many of us would be able to handle days like that? I’ve had some days where I felt my teaching wasn’t quite up to standard, but that was only seen by about 20-30 people, and they may not even have noticed (since they were likely asleep).

So while we often think about how glamorous it may be to be a winning, high-profile athlete, we likely don’t think much about those days when such athletes are not on top of the world. But like most things in life, if we want to succeed we have to be willing to take the good with the bad.

And as if yesterday wasn’t enough drama in the world of sports, today Novak Djokovic lost the French Open tennis title, perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend.

Like I said earlier, nothing in sports is a guarantee.

2 thoughts on “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

  1. Love your blog–I’m an ardent follower from the ‘Your Turn’ tribe. I read it every day and have gained much from your insights and commentary. Today’s entry (“Thrill of victory and agony of defeat”) has given me pause.I must admit i am thrown against a wall with one question that has brought me repeatedly to vexation all my life.
    “Was there a ‘precise moment’ that we embraced sports with all its celebrity and results as the primary barometer of our culture?” If it evolved… who was the ‘guy at bat’ behind it all?…oops i can feel an new research project creeping up on me…Thanks for today’s inspiration. Cheers,e

    1. Hi Estelle, I always enjoy reading your comments. I agree that the fascination with sports is an interesting one. Not sure when or where it started, perhaps with the contests between gladiators or the knights in shining armor. While I love sports because I think there is much to be gained from playing a sport, I agree that in many ways sports have gotten out of control, as evidenced by the salaries of those involved, as well as by the recent FIFA scandal. I think I would prefer a return to pure amateurism, but I think it may be too late.

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