Athletes and coaches have different philosophies about losing. Some say a loss is a lesson, others may say it's only a reflection of the player's abilities. In the end, what a game loss comes down to continuing to work hard, staying focused, and coming back stronger to get the result desired.
Of course, I can't explain what a loss means to everyone just like I can't explain why everyone competes to begin with. All of this depends on the individual player and what they get from it. I can say though that winning the game isn't the only way to win. Not really, because whenever you get something positive out of a situation, there's a victory in that. Winners don't always win the game, but winning the game isn't the only way to be a winner.
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
-Michael Jordan, retired NBA star athlete
Great athletes have great losses. Yet, we don't think of them as losers. Each time they don't win the title or bring home the trophy, they take away something else. Inspiration. Instead of getting angry or resenting their loses, great athletes are inspired to get better, train harder. They find the areas that keep them from scoring, from blocking, from anything, and make sure that area is no longer a road block for their next shot at victory. These are true athletes. The ones that try and try again, even when they repeatedly fail.
In sports, you can't give up. Anyone that has ever attempted a sport knows that getting really good means you can't stop pushing yourself even when you want to throw in the towel. There are people with natural talent and there are people that have to put in extra time to get there, but across the board any person can still lose, have to hone in and focus to come back better. The come back, the drive to keep improving, is what sets an athlete apart. Jesse Owens may say it best when he said:
"In the end, it's extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for our fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose?"
-Jesse Owens, four-time track and field Olympic gold medalist
Thousands of kids get into the sports world every year. For many reasons kids get involved in athletics but one of them is because of the valuable life lessons a kid grows up learning from sport involvement. Finding a sport that you are passionate about and excel at is truly a pleasure. Putting your whole heart and full determination into being the best version of yourself is no small feat, but sports can be a way to get there.
You could have the heart and drive of a winner since the time you were a kid picking up your sport. You will still lose. Losing is a required step in any journey to success.
"Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss."
-Doug Williams, former Washington Redskins quarterback
Sports instill character, respect for others, mental and physical discipline, and the will to overcome obstacles. For this reason, losing is more than just the points on the board, but the response of an athlete and this is why a winner isn't always the person taking home the W. The winner is the athlete that comes away from the game, win or lose, respecting the outcome and understanding the work hasn't stopped. My personal philosophy is this: A loss doesn't always mean one is a bad athlete, but instead is a great athlete in the making.