NROP: Is winning just about the score?

Back in the day, while playing sports, the only thing you had to worry about was winning. I have always been rather competitive, giving my all on the field. Sometimes the team I was on would lose, sometimes we would win. There was no better feeling than winning. Losing made everyone feel terrible, but it was also motivating. We would rest and then train harder and push harder at the next event. We would either defeat the opponents or not, and the cycle continued. More often than not, my team would win. Was it because we were lucky, or was it because I was on it? We shall never know.

Nowadays, there is a myriad of things you need to consider before scoring. The main one being – other people’s feelings. A prime example is the reactions to the U.S. female soccer team winning a match against Thailand 13 – 0 last week. It is the newest FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup record for the largest winning margin among women AND men. While the score should be cause for celebration, many people voiced their disapproval of the team’s celebrations of the later goals. They thought that goal number 13 should not be celebrated as much as the first one. Why, though?

One of Canada’s former soccer players called the celebrations “completely unnecessary” and accused the U.S. team of showing no “grace”. She went on to say: “Celebrating goals later in the game like this is just completely unnecessary”. Another former soccer player from Canada called the celebrations “disgusting” and mentioned how she was embarrassed because kids watched that game and they saw the 8th, 9th, 10th, etc. goals celebrated. I wish I could ask her what she meant by that. Why are we so fearful of exposing our kids to winning? I have watched too many matches in my life where the winning team got too complacent. They were satisfied with the score, so they lowered their defenses and played for fun (vs. to win). What happened next? The opposing team tied and sometimes even ended up winning the whole match. In my opinion, the game served as a crucial lesson for children that we should never settle. That we should never stop. Until the whistle is blown. Until we are no more. 

First of all, games are played for the score to be kept. Especially the big, official ones. Score an important part of any competition. When it comes to ranking, sometimes just winning a game is not enough to push you towards the next round. Sometimes there are multiple teams that won the same amount of games. What happens then? In soccer, the amount of goals you score is important. The ratio of the goals you scored to those you have lost is important. Aside from trying to win that particular game, the ladies were also planning for the future, in case some of the other teams in their group did well, too (like Sweden).

Such a high score must have been great for morale. It says: “We are good. We can do this. LET US DO THIS.” And I see nothing wrong with a little bit of motivation. Sure, such a defeat must have been terrible for Thailand’s morale. It looks like they will not advance to the next stage of the competition as of today. But the loss can also serve as a motivator for them. It could motivate them to train harder for the next championship. What does not kill you makes you stronger. Unless it kills you.

As a former amateur athlete, it pains me to even imagine that the women who scored the 11th and 13th goals are told that their goals are not worthy of a full-on celebration. They worked so hard and it paid off – they scored a goal at the World Cup. There were seven different people who scored during that game. For many of them (if not all), it was a dream come true to score a goal during this huge tournament. The 12th one was one of the team member’s 5th goal of the game. But why should it matter? Why should she be denied celebrating her hard work, anyway? Does one have to put in less work into their 3rd goal than their 1st one? Often, the opposite is true, because the opponent is already aware of your skill and is trying to interrupt your streak. The more I scored, the more I wanted to score. Who ever hopes to only get a point or two when they compete?

If the U.S. female soccer team did not celebrate all of the goals equally, what message would they send? That only certain goals are worth celebrating? How would those people feel, knowing that their goal is not as good as the goals of others?

Moreover, why was goal number 12 so important? Because it helped set the record for the largest winning margin. The previous one was set in 2007 when Germany beat Argentina 11 – 0.

Of course, I can also put myself in the shoes of the Thailand ladies. Losing 0 – 13 is VERY humbling. Undeniably, it must have been hard for them to keep on playing after the first few goals. But they carried on. And bravo to them for being great sports. They tried and played until the end. Every goal must have felt more and more humiliating. But how would they feel if the U.S. team gave up on scoring after the first couple of goals? Competition is competition and it stops being that once one side decides to take it easy on the other. It would be disrespectful to the Thai team to NOT score all those extra goals. It would send a message that they are not worthy of the effort. That they have no business playing against such opponents like the U.S.

Has anyone thought of the audience in all of this? I do not think so. As a fan of sports, I enjoy a good game. The games in which the rivals are evenly matched are probably the most exciting. However, I also like it when the team I am rooting for scores again and again. If I paid all that money to fly to France and see that game (flight + accommodation + stadium tickets + food + misc.), I would like to see all 13 of those goals. I would not like it if the team stopped after 4 or 5. Ultimately, for the fans, it is A SHOW.

The U.S. won against Chile 3 – 0 on Sunday and they celebrated their first goal a lot more meekly. The woman who scored ran up to the bench and briefly clapped in a calm manner. Those sitting on the bench replied with simple thumbs up and/ or handshakes. No over-kill celebration here.

We live in a society in which everyone gets a participation trophy. We simply cannot let someone feel like they are less than anyone else. Everyone needs to feel special. Well… I think there is a time and place for everything. Years ago, one of my co-workers said how they hated a specific singing competition because it was … A COMPETITION. Unfortunately, that person did not have much going for them and they knew it. It was so sad to see someone who did not feel special. Someone so unsure of themselves. No, someone so defeated. Someone so sure of their failure in life.

Because of that, they felt bad about other people, who are made to feel the same way when they do not win a competition. The thing is that if YOU do not feel special, you will always find an excuse to blame others for not making you feel special. YOU are the one who should make yourself feel special. If you know your worth, you will not need other people to praise you. Sure, it is nice to be acknowledged and rewarded, but we are not all good at everything. That is just the nature of things. Accept it. Find your strengths. Appreciate yourself for who you are and let others rejoice in who THEY are.

Stay golden,

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69 thoughts on “NROP: Is winning just about the score?

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  1. Winning is definitely a large part of any sport, however, winning is not everything. There is good sportsmanship to all those who played/competed. There is something to be said for losing too. Often times our losses teach us more than the wins do. They force us to push and train harder for the next time. They humble us. But to have such a lopsided win, and then to overtly celebrate it is just rubbing salt in the wounds of those who lost. It is humiliating enough to suffer such a huge loss and it really does not show good sportsmanship to rub the losers noses in it like this. I am an athlete too, and I train just as hard as the next person, but I would not want to be so humiliated after such a loss. You already feel bad enough as it is. there is no need to make it worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In pro sports, no one should ever let up on their opponent. If you are capable to beat your opponent 13-0 then go for it and celebrate it. These are adults we’re talking about here. There is a weird exception in pro basketball. There is an unwritten rule that if you have the final possession of the ball and you are way ahead of your opponent, you don’t take the shot out of respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that you agree. And you make a great point – “these are adults”. I think that’s a very important argument. They should have thick skin, be prepared and know how to cope with such a failure.

      Sometimes, in soccer, when a team is winning and there isn’t much time left, they will just kick the ball between themselves without making a play. That can get you in trouble, because it decreases the chances of the losing team to grab the ball and score. Also, it can sometimes lull the winning team to sleep and then the losing team ties the game. I don’t think anyone wants to be winning 9-0 only to end the game with 9-1.

      Liked by 1 person

                1. It could, but often times it just destroys the other team. Have you heard about the fighter Max Baer? Yes, “Jethro’s” father. He was a famous Heavy weight champion in the 1920’s. He was known as a killer and a “widowmaker”, because he would just dominate his opponent, wear him down, and then there was one punch he would throw to finish his opponent off, that would literally kill them. He killed at least 3 men in the ring because of that killer instinct and the need to always win. No one wanted to fight him in the end. It was a real controversial fight with between he and Jim J. Braddock. Fortunately for Braddock, he was not killed , and he came back and won the fight. But setting out to completely destroy your opponent is not god sports.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. That’s an interesting example, but I was never advocating for winning at all costs including violence. That’s why I don’t like the Boston Bruins. They win because they are rough and frankly a lot of what they get away with is against the rules.
                    But if you can hit a home run every time you come up to bat, or score a goal every time you get the ball, then you should and you should celebrate it! You’ll only be able to do it for a few years before someone younger and faster comes along anyway.

                    Liked by 2 people

                  2. I’ve never heard of it. Thanks for sharing that story with us. Well, murdering your opponent is kind of going overboard, but I understand what you’re trying to say. Also, see? Braddock came back with a vengeance and won. Good for him.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I think coming back after going up against such odds depends on the person. Jim J. Braddock was more determined than most people, Most people are not as strong either physically or emotionally as he was. most people would crumble under those circumstances..

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry I’ve been MIA Goldie! I’ve missed visiting so much! This is a very controversial topic for youth sports as well. In certain leagues and age divisions score differentials are not allowed to surpass certain numbers and there is both, detractors and supporters of that practice. Players are also encouraged to be “gracious” in there celebrations which is always a subjective term!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Where have you been? Just busy, or busy doing fun things?

      When it comes to youth sports, I understand toning down the celebrations when you all go into the same locker room. But here, once the match ends, the teams go their separate ways.

      You’re right. It’s all very subjective and there are pros and cons to everything.

      Do you play sports?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to but now it’s my kids. That’s why I’ve been MIA. Spring is terribly busy for a soccer family. My kids play for 4 teams, that means Practices every night, 4 games every weekend, tournament away every two weekends, then the las two weeks playoffs snd tryouts for next year. Hope you ho back to blogging normally next week

        Liked by 1 person

  4. In High School and College sports, there are times when the game is so lopsided that the teams are criticized for not sending in their bench players. There was one game when the home team fans (the one that was winning) was chanting “Send in the cheerleaders!” That would have been even more humiliating to the other team and obviously, they didn’t mean that as a serious suggestion. In fact in American football on the professional level, a player can be fined and penalized for excessive celebration in the end zone. Winning 13-0 is not the end result in the World Cup. Especially when celebrating all 13 goals! It tells the upcoming team that you will score as many as you can in any game and will not hold back for mercy’s sake. It can intimidate the next club they face. That intimidation might be the one thing that allows them to win the next game. Sports is not only about skill; it is about psychology.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m all for sending in the subs. Most of the time, they all deserve to play if even for a couple of minutes after all the training they’ve gone through. Not every game allows room to breathe.

      Yes, over-celebration can be penalized, but I think it’s mostly because of the time wasted. The clock keeps ticking and that’s the time the losing team cannot use to get even.

      I could not agree more. I thoroughly enjoy the psychology of sports (like any other). If you allow the opposing team to get into your head, you’re done for. Other teams will be a bit fearful. However, the stronger ones will just use it as better motivation to prove themselves. The US team cannot relax just because they won by such a high margin. They should remain in the winning mentality, but not forget to actually play.

      Like

  5. I can imagine how terrible the defeated team felt, but it should not diminish the achievement of the winning team. They’ve been working hard physically and mentally to get there. They’ve got the right to celebrate their success and to be proud of themselves. Feeling guilty about winning is not a way which will encourage kids to work hard.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. No. Kids today all know they are going to gt that participation award or trophy, so they don’t push themselves to excel. As a swim coach, I see all kinds, and some of the kids love to succeed and push themselves. Others just do the bear minimum yet still expect to do well at meets. They don’t seem to understand success will come through their own hard hard and dedication.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Good question. I am trying my best to figure that one out right now. We have some kids that no matter what we try, they just are not interested, and nothing seems to sink in. Believe me, there are plenty of times I want to just pull my hair out. Then we have other kids that are real excited about being there, and will do whatever it takes.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Hm. I was never an athlete. I never got the chance. I started a growth spurt at 12 and my left knee has been screwed up ever since.

    I don’t see a thing wrong with celebrating a win in a friendly competition. I’m not the competitive type. Everyone has pluses and minuses in any given field of interest. But, when hopes, dreams, reputations and money are at stake…OH MY. A crushing defeat can be life destroying. That, to me, is taking things way too far.

    Regarding your specific reference, 13-0 in soccer is pretty substantial…much like hockey. When I heard about it, the question that popped into my head was “Was the other team on the field?”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The best way to ensure greatness will never rise to the top is to encourage and weaponize sympathy. If winners are the “bad guys” and the losers are the “good guys” then what is even the point? Loosing makes you hungry for success. Cowardly winners and sore losers. The signs of an affluent society rotting from within.

    Liked by 1 person

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