Tim Crone: How you handle winning, losing is important

The Examiner
Tim Crone

Athletics teach invaluable life lessons that follow an athlete throughout their life.

During this past week two of my college roommates and fellow baseball players came down with the COVID-19 virus. A day later I learned that a coaching friend of mine from my time in Wyoming was also infected with the virus. Unfortunately his is a severe case and has required hospitalization. He is now in a care facility and is fighting the good fight.

I had a nice conversation with all three of them as we remembered things we learned together as teammates and coaching partners. The topic was of never giving up and always staying positive. These conversations made me reflect about my experiences with sports and the lessons I still apply to my life nearly every day.

One of the main things we discussed is how apparently society is losing the ability to respond well to winning and losing. It is absolutely no fun to lose at anything ever, but the reality is we all will be faced with losing at some time in our lives. My slogan to my players has always been “How do you feel when you win, how do you feel when you lose, and how do you want to feel?”

Win or lose, it is especially important to handle each situation with class and honesty. Athletics teach you to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. All good coaches and players understand that you must respect your opponent and victorious or not, show them that respect. Many of our great leaders have learned those lessons on the athletic field and have applied them successfully in their lives.

One of the most valuable lessons to be learned through athletics is how to be a gracious loser. People who are unable to accept defeat miss the point that a loss typically grows you as a person. People in every walk of life have been knocked down but the key success is the ability to get back up and learn from the loss.

Those involved in sports at any level will not tolerate a poor loser. They will never be respected by their competitors and will be viewed as unethical and as lacking character. In the sports world we see it every day.

An excellent example can be seen in Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. I would invite everyone to listen to one of his post-game interviews. The first words out of his mouth give credit to the players and coaches of the opposing team. He follows that with a discussion of how his team needs to learn from that game and improve in the future.

That, my friends, is great leadership.

Leaders are developed through athletics. Leaders are able to put others before themselves and accept the responsibility for their actions. A great quote by an unknown person applies: “Judge the leader not by the number that are led, but by the number that are served.”

My Wyoming coaching buddy has it right. We are beginning to lose those qualities in our society. We all need to understand the importance of winning and realize that a loss simply creates a need to become a better person because of it.

If you do not conquer the ability of winning humbly and losing with class and grace, then you may get lost in the wilderness. It is time for those qualities to be utilized in all walks of American life.

• The quote of the week comes from the first president of the United States, George Washington: “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” 

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.