"It matters not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game."
In my view of the world, that statement translates exactly to the title of the piece. If you don't win it doesn't mean anything. You might think I'm competitve talking like that? I am indeed, I am the most competitive person I have ever met. I can turn kids parties in to a competition between those attending. It's the one facet of my personality that runs free no matter how hard the reigns are pulled in. The 'matters not' comment is something said by those that know they'll never win but have to give some justification to their participation. I would never say that. I may have thought it. Recently.
In a solo sport, everything is down to you. The 7 iron to the 18th that you pull left: the split on the 10th frame that you knew was coming as your delivery was a little straight: the awful side you put on the cueball on that third red. The screw ups and the loss are yours - second really is first loser. You have no one to look at afterwards except yourself in the mirror. It's an unenviable position to find yourself in though, looking inward knowing you screwed up.
Team sports, on the other hand, have a collective responsibility to them. It's the team that shines or fails, and all have their part but seldom can one individual be blamed for a loss or applauded for the success. But may be that's not entirely true. I've stood and lined up a last minute shot at the posts knowing that the points are needed to avoid losing. I have knocked them over and we've celebrated. I've missed them and the "everything is down to you" syndrome applies from solo sports as above. But as an individual within a team you can play amazing and lose, or bloody awful and win, there's no trade off as above where one generally equals the other. May be there's something I'm missing.
I recall walking off the pitch after a bad game which, with little help from me, we won. I was disappointed at my performance (I am usually pretty critical, after all I compete mostly against myself) but glad we won. And the reverse has also been true - annoyed if we have lost but happy with a good personal performance. And it's these thoughts that have made me stop and think, made me re-evaluate one of my core beliefs in myself. May be I'm sliding towards the "it's how you played the game" philosphy.
I don't like this. Not one little bit. I'm competitive, I want to win, I hate losing. I really do hate losing. May be I hate playing badly more.