Walsh's Wonderings - Sore winners

Chuck Sommers rubbed my face in it. Sure, I’d talked a little trash about how I was going to usurp him at #1 in our 6th grade handball rankings, but he’d been bragging to Tiesha Williams that he’d beat me like a broken egg. Regardless of whether I had it coming, it was the first time I experienced a “sore winner” in action. (And yes, he beat me as if he were making omelets.)

Sore winners are best embodied by New England Patriots fans: They claim to know it all, aren’t afraid to share that fact with everyone in their path, and gloat mercilessly when proven right. Alas, they’re often proven right so often that it threatens the very idea of a loving God (at least in the case of Patriot fans). For the sore winner, self-worth and self-importance hang by a thread. It’s the unhealthy obsession with emerging victorious, even in celebrating that victory, that is their hallmark.

Those on the losing end are forced to come to grips with their coping mechanisms. They either assign credibility and weight to the taunts of the winners or acquire that healthy “distance from outcome” that more balanced people possess. It’s the difference between punting the sore winner out the bathroom window or walking away from their taunts with a smile. The former is definitely more satisfying, but the latter is a better harbinger of a happy life.

Nowhere is this contrast clearer than in the reaction to presidential elections. In the midst of certifying the results last week, I saw a woman stopped at a red light get out from behind the wheel on a crowded eight-lane roadway. Waving an oversized Biden/Harris flag, she proceeded to dance in the middle of this busy intersection for a full minute before leaping back into her minivan and driving off. The other cars erupted into a chorus of blaring horns, leaving the rest of us to figure out whether the frenetic bleating was in anger or agreement.

I’d seen something similar in 2016 when a group of ardent Trump supporters blocked traffic while screaming, “Lock her up!” Celebrating victory in the heat of the moment is one thing; choreographed crowing is something else entirely. It’s a needless exercise in “I told you so” that reflects poorly on anyone classless enough to do it. The victory should be enough.

As my high school soccer coach once told me, “When you score a goal, act like you’ve been there before.” Of course, I hadn’t been there before; in fact, after I scored my first goal, I’d never go there again. I could have learned a lot from Winston Churchill: “In war: resolution; In defeat: defiance; In victory: magnanimity; In peace: goodwill.”

I took my loss to Chuck Sommers like any good American; I congratulated him on his victory but complained bitterly behind his back that my knee had been sore and the ball had seemed dead. He should have done the same. Don’t be a Chuck ... or a Patriots fan. Things are difficult enough as it is.

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