loser

by Paul Niquette
Copyright 1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.
loser n. 
  1. One who has lost. 
  2. One who seems fated to lose.
I do not think that winning is the most important thing.  I think winning is the only thing.
-- Bill Veeck
Winning is not the most important thing; it's everything. 
-- Vince Lombardi

"Winning isn't everything.  It's the only thing."  That's the way management motivators quote Veeck or Lombardi.  But, hey!  What the hell does that mean!

Now, I'm sure both Veeck and Lombardi intended to exhort their players and tutor the press that winning is preferable to losing.  Hyperbole can be fun, too.  The amazing thing to me is how the public-at-large embraced these declarations.

Managements, ever eager to inspire subalterns to maximum effort, have likewise adopted their own version of the Veeck-Lombardi epigram uncritically.  Any utterance that rolls so nicely off the tongue must own undoubtable virtue.  Or a barren thought.

Notice how the thing flunks the reversal test: "Winning isn't the only thing; it's everything," has the same effect, if not even greater force.
Whether "every" or "only," the truth is something altogether the hell else.  Is there no such thing as honor?  Decency?  Oh, yes, and sportsmanship?  Why not cheat, then?
  • In sports, go ahead and clip the runner or face-mask the son-of-a-bitch, pile-on the tackle or rough the kicker, blind-side the passer if the referee isn't looking or bribe the referee if he is.  Winning is the only/everything, remember?
  • In business, fix that price, trade on that inside information, low-ball that bid then overrun the budget, lie about your competition.  Win.
  • In an election,...  You get the idea.
Here is another maxim making an enduring mark in sports and in management motivation.
"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
Thus, the style now is for players to rant at the officiating and to pout in the locker room.  Not sure how you're supposed to behave in business when you get bested in a budget fight, lose an order to a competitor, or drop a point in market share.  On the contrary...
Show me a bad loser, and I'll show you a loser.
Whether winning is everything or the only thing, fact of the matter is, there are many more losers than winners.  Live with it.
 
101 Words
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Epilog:  The Good Loser

It takes practice.  For five consecutive years I have crafted literary submissions pursuant to the rules for the Bulwer-Lytton Prize, ever hopeful, always losing.

Entry #1

With one bound he was by her side, his gold-braided cap falling into the aisle beside her seat, while Nora felt his hot breath on her cheek and inhaled his manly fragrance -- Brut, surely -- allowing herself a moment of guilty expectation, her oval face and high cheeks framed in blond curls, when suddenly her seatbelt pulled taut, her eyes fluttered, and she heard herself shriek, "Captain Holbrook, who is flying the plane?"
Entry #2
With one bound he was by her side, dropping his textbooks near the door, which had slammed and locked behind the last departing student, and in an instant Nora felt his hot breath on her cheek, her light brown locks suddenly released from their combs and clips as she tried in vain to turn away, but Todd's youthful strength, his towering presence, his animal nature overwhelmed any hope of resistance, his sneering voice whispering coarsely into her ear, "You will always be my favorite home-room teacher."
Entry #3
With one bound he was by her side, dropping his Bible beside the sofa, while Nora, with raven curls dancing on her forehead, felt his hot breath on her cheek, not able to decide which of many emotions she would allow herself to experience -- oh, but a blessing, surely, for she had that very Sunday, upon hearing Pastor Piltdown preach, placed a visitor card in the collection plate saying, "Please call on me, for I covet your spiritual guidance while my husband, who is in the Merchant Marines, is on another month-long voyage."
Entry #4
With one bound, he was by her side, and when Nora felt his hot breath on her cheek, she smirked and tossed down her copy of The Female Eunich next to the barstool, then reaching up with both hands to grasp his perfectly quaffed forelocks, she exclaimed, "Senator Lott, I have won my bet!"
Entry #5
With one bound he was by her side, tossing his leather briefcase onto the carpet beside her desk, and when Nora felt Mr. Preston's hot breath on her cheek, she suddenly stopped typing the opening lines of her gothic novel and lifted her hands from the keyb


Discovery in 2015: Nearly 20 years flashed by after the publication of loser, and then...

The author was checking for plagiarism on the web by a routine search on the phrase
Nora felt his hot breath and was astonished to find Balham! Gateway to the South!  
Astonished? -- hey, chagrined.  There is no doubt about it, Paul Niquette is a plagiarist.  He apparently picked up the passage back in the late 1950s from that recording by Peter Sellers featuring the literary work of Muir and Norden. 
Covering up the crime merely calls for an editing job in the HTML file.  However, the creative challenge is daunting.  You are invited to submit recommendations here.