Winning shouldn’t be everything
“We are the champions, my friends,” the popular song goes. Whenever I hear these lyrics, I’m reminded of the sometimes obsessive way people pursue winning.
My grandfather is no exception to this obsession.
Pappy loves football. Although he occasionally flicks on a basketball or baseball game, if there’s a football game playing anywhere, that’s what he’s watching. Whenever that football game turns on, the rest of the world does not exist for him.
Pappy lives five minutes away from my family, in the rancher where my mom grew up. On countless occasions throughout my childhood, I’ve visited him there. And there’s seldom a time when we’ve gone over that he hasn’t had that television blaring a game.
Pappy’s always sitting in his humongous La-Z-Boy, with the clunky remote and a glass of ice water sitting on the cork-and-wood coaster that permanently resides on the table by his seat. The large flatscreen flashes bright images from its position in the opposite corner of the room. The volume is always raised to an almost painful level so that Pappy can listen without his hearing aids.
But Pappy’s viewing habits don’t end there. Most avid football fans claim a certain team and unabashedly root for it, no matter how successful (or not) it is any given season. Most avid football fans possess a few pieces of paraphernalia that signify their loyalty to the team.
Pappy does not have a team. He has many teams. Pappy is so concerned with being on the winning team that, halfway through the season, he will start rooting for the team he was rooting against at the beginning of the season.
This approach has some benefits. Pappy’s team always wins the Super Bowl. Pappy never feels the letdown or anger that the losing team’s fans feel.
But there are also some repercussions. Pappy’s friends regularly joke about his inconsistency. And his closet is filled with a random assortment of paraphernalia, representing the many teams he has professed as his own throughout the years.
The truth is, many of us are in the same boat as Pappy.
We don’t want to accept defeat or consider ourselves part of the losing team. While some less athletic persons like myself have accepted our inevitable defeat in athletic conflicts, there is always some area of our lives in which we have to be the winners.
There are academic winners, socialite winners, artistic winners, intellectual winners, rebel winners, physical beauty winners. But we all have to win.
One explanation for this mindset is it is the natural result of the American survival instinct. But another explanation for this mindset is our need to be in control of our lives. We are obsessed with being in control.
Is this obsession healthy? Probably not. Although some areas in life require control, when we start trying to control every area of our lives, we develop a toxic mental environment for ourselves and our relationships.
Maybe moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with control. Pick and choose your battles. Allow yourself to fail and get back up again. And, when football season starts in a few months, give your team a chance to win before switching jerseys.