The outcome vs. the effort

Winning is one of the best feelings in the world. The thrill, the loud cheers, the adrenaline rush. Although many say that trying your hardest is truly the best, I believe that if you do try your best, you will win.

In many competitive events, it is expected for the participants to put in all their effort in order to win the trophy. If they aren’t trying their hardest to facilitate a win, they shouldn’t be in the event. Every team will always put in its full effort, but only one will come out victorious. Besides effort, skill is one of the greatest factors that separates mediocre players from excellent players.

This year’s Branding Iron is a perfect example. Our football team’s determination to bring home the Branding Iron after six years was one of the driving factors of why they performed so well. In the 2016 National Basketball Association Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors (4-3) after being down 1-3. The Cavaliers’ skill and great teamwork allowed them to win three games in a row despite the Warriors’ one-game shy victory. In this year’s Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots (2017 NFL champions). The Eagles’ strategy and dexterity were the two major reasons why they prevailed. They didn’t let the Patriots stop them from their victory.

James Harrison is the perfect person to deliver this message of winning. A look at his career suggests he worked for everything he got. He played for Kent State University as a walk-on because he was never recruited. Even after four years as a star football player, Harrison wasn’t drafted by the NFL because he was considered “too short” at six foot. Instead, he was signed to the practice squad of the Steelers. He moved around from the Steelers, to the Baltimore Ravens and the Rhein Fire of the European NFL. In all, he was cut four times during his drafts. But his career turned around after 2007: he earned two Super Bowl rings, five Pro Bowl appearances and has the record for the longest interception in Super Bowl history.

The words of praise and respect coaches give after a victorious game builds the player’s confidence and pride in the game. This heightened confidence allows players to perform even better because they believe in themselves, they know that their skill level will come through in the most crucial moments. Mentality is just as important as physicality and constant losses can heavily impact a player’s mental game.

In team sports, teamwork, communication, dedication and skill are the reasons for a team’s triumph. Without any of these factors, the team cannot expect to win simply based on trying.

Losing might be one of the worst feelings in the world. Perhaps the team failed to score the winning goal or the “squad’s” race times fell short of qualifying for league. But losing does not only encompass games. Maybe it’s failing to meet the expectations of one’s coach or reach a goal one has set for him or herself. It’s fine to lose. Losing makes people stronger, physically and mentally. Besides, losing once does not mean one will lose subsequently in the future.

My grandfather once told me that throughout the history of sports, the victories of champions were built on the rocks of failure. Michael Jordan, probably the best player in the history of basketball, was cut from his high school team for failing to fulfill the height requirements (he was 5’ 11’’). The coach told him that he was too short and lacked the skills to play competitively. Tom Landry, likely the best American football coach in history, in his first season in NFL, held the worst record ever recorded of winning no games, and for the following seasons, winning at most five games. However, today, he has under his belt two Super Bowl victories, five National Football Conference championships and the record for most career wins in football. Babe Ruth, one of the greatest sports heroes in America, held the record for the most strikes in a decade, but eventually he obtained the record for highest number of home runs. When interviewed, Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

Despite all the heat and banter coaches may give you after a lost game, what do they emphasize the most? Trying your best. It’s not just trying your best in this game, but the subsequent games as well. Defeat makes us thirsty for victory. We train harder and longer. We develop new strategies. And most importantly, we make ourselves stronger.

Yeah, I know. Like every other athlete, I’ve heard all this encouragement dozens of times. I still feel disappointed – disappointed at my coaches, at my teammates and at myself. But eventually, I realized that winning is not always a reality. There is always going to be someone better than you, but you can always be better than yourself. No matter which sport you may play, you’re playing to improve your previous record. And honestly, that’s the best feeling in the world: seeing that you did better than last time.

So if you’re still disappointed after losing, don’t be. Admit it, you lost, but at least you tried your best. Trying your best means that you performed to the best of your capabilities. And if doing the best is the highest you can perform, then it’s more than an accomplishment.

Just remember that victory is built on defeat and effort. Besides, what’s life without its highs and lows?

By Albert Law and Phillip Leung, Design lead and Production lead

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