Lombardi’s winning philosophy is very much alive

Lombardi's winning philosophy is very much alive By Bob Karolevitz What is it about the human animal that winning a game or an election is so gosh darned important?

You'd think that a last-second field goal was a matter of life or death for those of us who sometimes act like perennial sophomores. Or as one wag says: "It's even more serious than that!"

There have been times � after a loss on gridiron, court or polling place � that for some of us it seemed that the end of the world had come.

But � do you know what? � the sun came up the next morning and life went on as though nothing had happened. Before long the defeat was forgotten and a whole new contest-to-end-all-contests had arisen to take its place.

I suppose it's all right to cheer till our voices go bad, to ring cowbells, to wear funny-looking cheese heads and to exchange high-fives when the final score or vote count pleases us; and yet when it's all over, what amounts to momentary elation quickly fades away.

I got a new perspective on the subject when several rabid basketball fans � including us � were bemoaning a bitter defeat at the hands of what we always assumed was a villainous rival.

That's when our non-athletic-minded friend said: "What are you so unhappy about? You only lost by one point."

For us that one point was tantamount to disaster. To our friend, who would rather listen to a symphony than the raucous cacaphony of a sporting event, it was a ho-hum loss.

And in the end, maybe she was right!

We get carried away with team colors. Purple and gold, the Big Red, Yellow and Blue, Silver and Black, etc., etc., have a special meaning which can be translated into loyalty to dribblers and quarterbacks. We wear the various hues with pride, even in defeat. "Wait till next year" becomes our rationalizing motto.

Then there's politics. In my motley career I used to be involved in campaigns as a paid publicist and speech-writer. When we won, it was happy time; when we lost, gloom set in. Now, years later, neither the jubilation nor the blues are remembered.

All that stress was for naught!

Still we sit before the television screen awaiting an election return or vicariously supporting a collection of high-paid strangers whom we don't know from Adam. If they win, we are ecstatic, as though we personally had thrown the pass which our guy caught in the end zone. If they lose, we are morose.

I guess it's normal to choose sides like that, and Phyllis says I'm worse than most. My response is always the same: "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser." I'm a never-say-die student of the Vince Lombardi philosophy: "Winning isn't everything; it's the ONLY thing!"

When it comes right down to it, though, the "you only lost by one point" approach surely saves wear and tear on the emotions. Sometimes I wish I could adopt that simple view, but I'm afraid I'll always be one of those die-hards.

The record and history books are full of details about who won the World Series in 1923, the championship high school basketball game in 1930 and how Herbert Hoover beat Al Smith for the presidency. What's forgotten, of course, are the highs and lows experienced by the avid fans of the teams or the candidates.

You can't change the spots on a leopard, I'm told. Neither can you eliminate that human trait to be fanatically for one side or the other.

Go, Rabbits!

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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