Can't Win for Winning

Richard Kantro
Last week, in a Utah women's high school varsity basketball game, the Christian Heritage Crusaders gave -- to use a term much in the news lately -- a "shellacking" to the West Ridge Academy Eagles.  By a score of 108-to-3, to be exact (story here).

After the game ‑‑ in a display of misplaced contrition possible only in a discomfited climate where success has mutated into reason for abashment, and where victory no longer flushes, but shames ‑‑ Christian Heritage "apologized" to the West Ridge team:  for having won.  One administrator and one student player seem to have been overwhelmed by the guilt factor:

"We're going to sit down with them and make sure they know how we feel," said Christian Heritage head of school Don Hopper. "We didn't mean to do anything to hurt them or upset them. It got away from us, and we're going to do things differently next time."

"I want to personally apologize to the team," said Crusaders co-captain Brittany Hurlbut. "To just say if we hurt any members of the team or the school, we sincerely apologize."  (See story here.)

Regarding the win, head Coach Rob McGill of the winning Crusaders had it mostly right:

"I have been on the other side of this equation," said McGill. "It was very insulting when teams slowed the ball down and just passed it around. That's why I'd rather have a team play me straight up, and that's why I played them straight up. Because I didn't want to taunt them, I didn't want to embarrass them, I didn't want them to think we could do whatever we want."  (ibid.)

And quoted elsewhere, Coach McGill also said,

"Too many people in the world right now allow the youth to not be as good as they can be, allow them to be lazy," said McGill. "Here, I'm giving them an opportunity to live up to the best of their abilities and be proud of what they're able to accomplish. If that's what I'm being blamed for, then OK, I accept it."  (Story here.)

Does anyone remember the stats for the 1962 New York Mets?  They won 40 and lost 120.  They didn't die of shame.  Had this been a fight, one mug would've been on his back, lights out, kayoed in the first 20 seconds of round 1.  Not great for your stats, but it happens, and you get up.  But this was basketball, not boxing, and play goes by the clock to the end.  In any sport, magnanimity should of course go hand-in-hand with winning, and gracious sportsmanship with rightful celebration.  And no less so where, as here, one contestant has way outmatched the other.  Yet, for a winner to exchange grace for self-flagellation ‑‑ and turn a clean rout into a self-debasement ‑‑ is unhealthy for loser and winner alike.  Why is this happening?

Something perverse, unsportsmanlike, and unnatural is polluting today's social climate.  That creepy something is guilt over winning; shame born of success; denunciation of superior ability; and abnegation of just pride.  Increasingly, it is rejection of one's own worth; and disdain, if not distaste bordering on hatred, for personal or collective achievement.  And, ultimately, for ordinary life.  "I'm sorry I drive a car and burn gas; I'm sorry I exhale; I'm sorry I eat meat; I'm sorry we have light bulbs and nuclear bombs; I'm sorry I make money."  Well, there's a basketball lover in Washington, D.C. who'd like to unburden you of all those sorrows.

Because for better or for worse, in this case much worse, the man at the top sets the tone.  Barack Hussein Obama's behavior ‑‑ his vexatious bowing, and his incessant droning of nostra culpa everywhere he goes ‑‑ is having a predictable effect:  dispiriting and infantilizing us, and stripping us of our can-do spirit.  By virtually all measures, America has always achieved greatness.  And where we have stumbled, we've come back and redeemed ourselves.  Yet for Obama, we fail on every count.  To him, our founding is flawed; our greatness unwarranted; our success purloined; our wealth undeserved; our preeminence unfair; and our ignobility manifest.  But, in truth, it is he who is incorrigible, not we.  He may be the chief executive, but of the justly proud American people whose government he heads, he is surely no worthy leader.  And for having elevated the unworthy, the American people indeed should apologize ‑‑ to themselves ‑‑ and resolve, just 21 short months from now, to mend their mistake.

Richard Kantro may be contacted at rk4at@hotmail.com.
Last week, in a Utah women's high school varsity basketball game, the Christian Heritage Crusaders gave -- to use a term much in the news lately -- a "shellacking" to the West Ridge Academy Eagles.  By a score of 108-to-3, to be exact (story here).

After the game ‑‑ in a display of misplaced contrition possible only in a discomfited climate where success has mutated into reason for abashment, and where victory no longer flushes, but shames ‑‑ Christian Heritage "apologized" to the West Ridge team:  for having won.  One administrator and one student player seem to have been overwhelmed by the guilt factor:

"We're going to sit down with them and make sure they know how we feel," said Christian Heritage head of school Don Hopper. "We didn't mean to do anything to hurt them or upset them. It got away from us, and we're going to do things differently next time."

"I want to personally apologize to the team," said Crusaders co-captain Brittany Hurlbut. "To just say if we hurt any members of the team or the school, we sincerely apologize."  (See story here.)

Regarding the win, head Coach Rob McGill of the winning Crusaders had it mostly right:

"I have been on the other side of this equation," said McGill. "It was very insulting when teams slowed the ball down and just passed it around. That's why I'd rather have a team play me straight up, and that's why I played them straight up. Because I didn't want to taunt them, I didn't want to embarrass them, I didn't want them to think we could do whatever we want."  (ibid.)

And quoted elsewhere, Coach McGill also said,

"Too many people in the world right now allow the youth to not be as good as they can be, allow them to be lazy," said McGill. "Here, I'm giving them an opportunity to live up to the best of their abilities and be proud of what they're able to accomplish. If that's what I'm being blamed for, then OK, I accept it."  (Story here.)

Does anyone remember the stats for the 1962 New York Mets?  They won 40 and lost 120.  They didn't die of shame.  Had this been a fight, one mug would've been on his back, lights out, kayoed in the first 20 seconds of round 1.  Not great for your stats, but it happens, and you get up.  But this was basketball, not boxing, and play goes by the clock to the end.  In any sport, magnanimity should of course go hand-in-hand with winning, and gracious sportsmanship with rightful celebration.  And no less so where, as here, one contestant has way outmatched the other.  Yet, for a winner to exchange grace for self-flagellation ‑‑ and turn a clean rout into a self-debasement ‑‑ is unhealthy for loser and winner alike.  Why is this happening?

Something perverse, unsportsmanlike, and unnatural is polluting today's social climate.  That creepy something is guilt over winning; shame born of success; denunciation of superior ability; and abnegation of just pride.  Increasingly, it is rejection of one's own worth; and disdain, if not distaste bordering on hatred, for personal or collective achievement.  And, ultimately, for ordinary life.  "I'm sorry I drive a car and burn gas; I'm sorry I exhale; I'm sorry I eat meat; I'm sorry we have light bulbs and nuclear bombs; I'm sorry I make money."  Well, there's a basketball lover in Washington, D.C. who'd like to unburden you of all those sorrows.

Because for better or for worse, in this case much worse, the man at the top sets the tone.  Barack Hussein Obama's behavior ‑‑ his vexatious bowing, and his incessant droning of nostra culpa everywhere he goes ‑‑ is having a predictable effect:  dispiriting and infantilizing us, and stripping us of our can-do spirit.  By virtually all measures, America has always achieved greatness.  And where we have stumbled, we've come back and redeemed ourselves.  Yet for Obama, we fail on every count.  To him, our founding is flawed; our greatness unwarranted; our success purloined; our wealth undeserved; our preeminence unfair; and our ignobility manifest.  But, in truth, it is he who is incorrigible, not we.  He may be the chief executive, but of the justly proud American people whose government he heads, he is surely no worthy leader.  And for having elevated the unworthy, the American people indeed should apologize ‑‑ to themselves ‑‑ and resolve, just 21 short months from now, to mend their mistake.

Richard Kantro may be contacted at rk4at@hotmail.com.