Anxious eyes look up at the ref.  The ref looks down at his watch, raises his whistle and blows three times.  Game over.  The victors are jubilant – all screams and shouts and hugs and high fives.  The vanquished are dejected – they slump to the ground, head between hands with eyes that look lost and forlorn, studying the blades of grass in hopes of an explanation.  A reason.  A justification.  Some days are like that.

What I have learned over time is that the final score does not and should not define who you are as a person.  Losing a game does not make you a loser.  Nor does winning a game make you a winner.  That is not to say that games should not be competitive.  They should be.  And if you choose to play competitive sports there are (unless you play 5 day test cricket) only two outcomes.  Win.  Lose.  However, the lessons that are to be learned lie in the process of how that outcome came to be, not in being fixated on the final result.  Perhaps this Japanese proverb sums it up best,

We learn little from victory, much from defeat.

Through defeat we rekindle the spark.  We hit the gym to get stronger and faster.  We analyze tape, scheme new plays, work on new strategies.  And we do all of this because of that next chance that lies in wait.  That next game.  And the one after that.  And maybe eventually another opportunity for a shot at a championship game.  Perhaps then we will win.  It still won’t define us winners, but it will define our character as players who accepted defeat as an opportunity to to learn and grow, confident in the knowledge that better is possible.  And if we were to lose … as Winston Churchill says …

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

I am proud of you Juju.