Real winners

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

SPORTS competitions are good. And especially for kids. They are supposed to teach discipline, determination and dedication as well as promote high selfesteem, well-adjusted behavior and improved physical health. But more than anything else, sports competitions should teach kids to be magnanimous winners and gracious losers.

The last thing we want is for sports competitions to end up into backyard brawls and fist fights.

I believe kids should learn some basic guidelines before joining competitions. If you can’t take defeat, then you should stay out of the game. The moment you step into the court, that means you accept the result—with grace.


Whatever that may be. There is a bigger game involved —and that is the
game of life.

This is the competition model we should show our kids. We train hard. We play well. We accept the results—win or lose. Whatever the case may be, we hold our heads up high. We should congratulate ourselves for our best efforts.

We should revel in our victories but we should be accepting of our defeats. Win or lose, we should be humbled by how far we may have allowed the game to take us on a positive level.

But we do not fight over the results. And most of all, we do not hurl insults. In general, Filipinos are sore losers. And this is not
just in sports. This also carries to speech competitions, singing contests, beauty contests and all other activities where there are proclaimed winners.

I always tell people that judging is a subjective process. While there are criteria to be followed, when human beings are involved, the process can never be completely objective. But when we join a competition, we submit ourselves to the judging process, no matter how imperfect it may be.

As such, we should accept the results, whether we perceive them to be fair or unfair. When I was a Toastmaster, I entered speech competitions.

When I reached the national level, I lost. My fellow club members and fellow Cebuanos flocked to my side and comforted me by telling me that I was the real winner. They told me that I had been cheated out of a victory.

Actually, I didn’t think so. I felt that I had lost, fair and square, to the better Toastmaster. There was nothing to protest. I did not deserve to win. Because that day, I truly sucked. And there were technical problems to boot.

For me, I just had bad luck and was not as skilled and as confident as the other contestants. That was all there was to it. There was nothing sinister or unjust about my defeat. It was absolutely above board. Unfortunately, my friends and fellow Cebuanos didn’t think so.

I remember feeling betrayed as I listened to their proclamations of fervent loyalty to me. They were such sore losers. But they were liars as well. Because I could not really believe that they could not see the truth for themselves. While their intentions might have been good, I thought their loyalty was grossly misguided.

My message to all kids who join competitions is simple. Win or lose, accept the result. Remember that the audience is the final arbiter. Real winners hold their heads up high, no matter whose name is called.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 20, 2014.


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