I’ve played sports for nine of the twenty-three years I’ve been alive. My hand has been tried athletically within the realms of baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and golf (The first three listed I played for an academic institution).
Whether it’s been for backyard or for an accredited institution, I’ve shed my blood, sweat, and tears for the different teams I’ve played for. I’ve found value within working hard, grinding through pain, and I’ve tasted the pleasure of never giving up. I suppose that this arena is the only one I can literally prove myself…
The only thing I’ve proven is that I know how to lose.
I’ve spent the last two years growing as a soccer player for my college. It’s not an official sport of my university but we’ve played with and for them consistently for two years. My first year of play was the first year I’d ever played soccer. Ask the guys. It was awful. Our team struggled through the transition of losing every single game we played. We never even came close. Out of our struggle was born a desire to win.
Our second season was bridled with hope. We cut back on the sheer amount of members for the team, re-arranged a few of the position players, and set out to win the league. Our first game was won by forfeit; a decent start but the win wasn’t earned. The rest of the season was spent fighting with our hearts on the table only to come up short. If I remember correctly we lost the majority of our games by one goal in the final seconds.
Come to think of it, all of my athletic seasons have been this way. Our football team sucked, I rode the bench pretty much every game in baseball, and I can’t ever seem to beat my dad in golf (or videogame golf for that matter). I’ve learned what it means to lose but I have yet to fully embrace the high of winning.
We had a playoff soccer game last night against a team we lost to earlier in the season. We knew we could win and we fought our hardest. I manned the goal box and gave it my all. My body is scraped, bruised, and sore. My brothers ran the field, battled the opposing side with every ounce of heart they had. For what? A chance to win. A chance to move on and play for the championship. Even still, we came up short.
“Why do we fall, Mr. Bruce?”
I sat in the car on the way home and found myself at an utter loss. I have two more games of collegiate level soccer. I graduate in two months. The end of the road has come. What do I have to show for it?
“So we can learn how to pick ourselves back up.” -Alfred Pennyworth
I have the scars, the memories, and the brothers to show for it. You see, I think I’ve learned that in order to know how to win, one must first learn how to lose. Dependency upon something greater than ourselves is the highest goal. I’ve learned how to lose and I’ve learned what it means to feel pain. It is in our failures that we are defined. It is adversity that weighs the value of a man. Will he crumble or will he stand?
Will he take a hit and bow to his oppressors or will he stand up ready for another?
Will he give up when others give up on him or will he run the path in front of him?
I think there is more value in losing than there is winning. When one stands upon the mountain top he has a long way to fall. If a man finds himself at the bottom then he truly has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Why do we fail?
To know the true value in succeeding.
Why do we bleed?
To feel the sting of loss.
Why do we fall?
To learn how to pick ourselves back up.