The Denver Nuggets, a woefully pathetic professional basketball team if you are not aware, lose a lot of games. They lose so many games the owner of the team has done what every disgruntled owner does when his team is losing. He fired the coach. Firing the coach makes no sense from a basketball point of view. The coach did not miss easy free throws. The coach did not refuse to play defense. The coach did not sit on the bench and mope when he didn't get enough playing time. The coach did not launch reckless three pointers in a vain attempt to make Sports Center that evening. The coach was not obsessed with his personal statistics. The coach was not spending game time thinking about his endorsement contracts. The coach was not more concerned with style than substance. No, the coach didn't do anything to make the Nuggets lose but he was the one who was fired. I understand the owner's problem. Coaches can be had for a couple of million bucks per year. Firing all of the lazy, disinterested, selfish players who are there to collect a paycheck would bankrupt the team. So the coach gets fired and the team remains.
The search for a new coach took a long time. Finally the Nuggets decided upon a fellow whom I have never heard of, which is really easy to do since I stopped following the NBA when the Nuggets fired Doug Moe (look it up if you don't know). I saw a portion of his introductory press conference and he made an interesting statement. He said that he would shape the team around players who have three particular qualities that he is looking for. Those qualities were good character, a good work ethic and the necessity for the player to "hate to lose." Not surprisingly, the Nuggets new number one draft choice, drafted just last week I believe, declared that "losing makes me sick" when he was introduced to the Denver sports media. I don't know if losing really does make him sick but he sure knows how to get into the good graces of the new coach.
I am sick and tired of hearing professional athletes, or anyone else for that matter, declare how much they despise losing. What universe do these idiots live in? Life consists mostly of losing. Sports consists mostly of losing. Losing is the pathway to knowledge and personal growth. Learning how to lose is one of life's most important lessons and all I hear these days are the voices of spoiled, selfish millionaires whining about how they hate to lose. Grow up and lose like a man, you wimps.
Back in the old days, so far, far away from me now, coaches used to teach their players how to lose. I remember it well. We were told to win with grace and lose with dignity. If a player did not display the proper attitude after a game he would not be playing the next game. Coaches realized that life was about a whole lot more than winning and losing. But then something happened along the way. I don't know what it was or when it happened or even why it happened but things changed. Suddenly, it seemed to me, nobody knew how to lose anymore. Suddenly, when I was watching some of my favorite sports teams, I noticed that nobody seemed to know how to lose with dignity. All I saw was a group of infantile adults playing games in a very poor fashion. I don't know how a coach can consider a player to be of "good character" and also "hating to lose" at the same time. Those two things do not go together. Character is built and displayed via losing, something the new coach seems to not recognize. Something has gone terribly astray in the world of sports.
Being a "poor sport," which is what we used to call these people, has been turned into a virtue. Declaring how angry you are when you lose somehow means you care. All it means to me is that the person making the declaration has the emotional constitution of a baby. When a person does not throw a fit and walk around angry and sullen after a lose the fans, coaches and media will question his "will to win." The desire to win is now exclusively associated with how poorly a player loses. How tiresome it has all become to watch the baseball player walk into the dugout and smash the water cooler with his bat. How irksome it is to watch the basketball and football players throw hissy fits and refuse to talk to the press after a loss. All of the faithful gather around and speak in hushed reverent tones about how great an athlete the person is because he is throwing a tantrum after a loss. Everyone is afraid to speak to him because he is so mad about the loss. But I don't see greatness. I see emotional immaturity and tremendous personal insecurity, and I don't like what I see. Do you?