Everyone is familiar with sore losers. They’re the people who sulk and pout when they lose. They’ll often claim things were unfair.
This is generally thought to be an attribute of small children, who have yet to understand that they can’t win every time. Usually children can be pacified by a promise of a trip to the local ice cream shop is (or even a fast food joint for ice cream).
Adults are supposed to be beyond that, but most of us know a few adults who don’t lose well. They’re less enjoyable to play with, as well, simply because they generally play a little more hard-nosed than a friendly football game in the park calls for. Y’know, like this guy:
Of course, this topic comes to mind after the controversy regarding basketball player LeBron James, who refused to shake hands with the winning team after his team was eliminated from playoffs. Apparently basketball players traditionally shake hands after a game. (This would not be an issue in baseball, where fraternizing with the opponent is strictly against the rules and teams do not shake hands after any game–although umpires look the other way often when players chat on the field before (and during) the game.) James also left before he could do any media interviews.
Another example is Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. He celebrates every save with dramatic flair, so I suppose it should be no surprise he sulks over every loss like a high school girl, too (see linked article, where he threw a towel at a photographer after he blew a save).
I recognize there is often great passion behind athletes, but they also need to learn to control themselves, too. I wouldn’t expect James or Papelbon to be thrilled with losing the game. I don’t like to lose either. Papelbon and James could easily be cranky, but polite.
James didn’t have to be happy for the winning team. He could’ve silently shaken hands (if he was feeling particularly friendly, he could’ve muttered a begrudging “Congrats”, too, but I wouldn’t ask that of him).
Other basketball stars have mentioned were able to compliment the winning opponent; I would consider Mr. Jordan and Mr. Johnson to both be competitive. I’m sure both were very upset to lose. However, both managed to congratulate opponents with grace (I’m not sure when they were able to compliment the other team–that might’ve taken a recovery period of a few days or hours).
Now, Papelbon’s ire might’ve been less public–only the camera guy would’ve known about it–but his control needs a little work. Glare at the photographer. Hide from him (which he later did). Just as Papelbon’s job was the save the game, it was the photographer’s job to get pictures from the game, like it or not.
You can excuse these guys as kids, but James is 24, and Papelbon is 28 (to put it in perspective, he’s almost a year older than the oldest member of the Twins starting rotation). There are many average men who have graduated from college and are working full-time jobs by the time they’re 24. By the time they’re 29, they’re working full-time, married, and might have a kid or two and a mortgage. At 22, I’d be more forgiving (that’s the average age of a college senior. College students are a mixed bag of exceptionally responsible and “enjoying my last year of freedom, man!”).
There’s a such thing as passion, but sometimes you have to take your losses like a man. As a woman, I’m free to sulk and pout when my team loses.*
*Kidding. I might be upset, but I’m not going to take it out on someone else.