I never much cared for Lance Armstrong. There was far too much perfection in his ceaseless winning. (Besides it was just riding a damn bicycle.) I sensed something amiss about him and was not at all surprised when it all come tumbling down and he was exposed as a lying cheat. Suddenly I was interested in him. Now instead of not giving a damn I actually could work some really strong animus. His story was far more interesting.
John Wooden was a much admired college basketball coach who racked up a string of national titles several earned by unbeaten teams. He and his team generally carried themselves with class and there was not a whiff of scandal around his UCLA programs. Yawn. Coaches and players can learn a lot from the late great Wizard of Westwood but what a snooze of a story.
In sports it is defeat that defines character. I have reveled in my favorite baseball team's (SF Giants) two World Series titles these past three seasons. But I am lucky to have suffered from so many near misses from the time I was a wee child through adulthood. Those crushing defeats merely strengthened my love for the team and made their first two titles of my lifetime so much sweeter.
Without agony ecstasy has little meaning. There are some who toss their team aside after bitter disappointment or an embarrassing pratfall. I've had two teams I love suffer shocking defeats recently. First of all you get used to it and can and should remind yourself that yes it is in fact only a game. (It is amazing for how many years I refused to accept that it was not just a game and would have an entire weekend ruined by a team's loss.) But also those losses make the wins meaningful and precious.
Sports are cruel if you measure success only in terms of championships. Locally the 49ers pro football team reached the conference title game last season and the Super Bowl this one. In both instances they lost and in excruciating fashion that brought out an endless cacophony of could haves should haves would haves. But goodness they had great seasons in both instances -- particularly given a long string of bad ones that preceded. It seemed impossible for locals to appreciate their accomplishments instead boo hooing the final loss. Perspective is everything and is often missing in the what have you done for me lately mindset of sports fans.
Okay my writing is spent for now. Can't think of a clever way to wrap this up so I reckon maybe I should just stop....