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It is usually the winner that gets the attention and becomes the center of focus. Whatever he or she does or says becomes our model and these descriptions are frequently on a personal psychological level. Although we may admire and respect talent, our personal opinion of the winner becomes, in our mind, the reason the winners are able to manifest their talent.
Another assumption that we make is that to be a winner you have to be a "good guy." In all of our folklore it is always the clean-cut, wholesome American kid who finally comes through in the end. We cannot conceive of a "bad guy" being a winner. Somehow that picture, that image, destroys our illusions. In order to keep the picture complete and in line with mythology, the winners can only be good. By the same token, losers must be bad. They must be tainted in some way or have some flaw that keeps them from attaining the Holy Grail (otherwise known as the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl Trophy). We cannot think that a team or player can be corrupt or dirty and, we cannot even entertain the thought that accepted behavior within some sports may be corrupt or destructive.
So we devise terms to describe our heroes and heroines and place them on pedestals so they may act as models. We develop a whole new jock vocabulary that incorporates all of the cultural values. We then point out how these values are crystallized in sports. Our winning athletes are courageous, loyal, competitive, dedicated, fierce, determined, aggressive, team persons, tough-minded, psyched-up, motivated, and so forth. Not only that, they give 110%, they never say die, play with pain, or give till it hurts. Winning athletes are a cross between Superman, the Bionic Man and the Boy Scout Oath. These simple one-word descriptions are fortified with locker rooms filled with slogans that further describe the winner. We all know that "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." Leo Durocher expression that went something like, "You show me a good loser and I'll show you a real loser." Perhaps the two most famous of the expressions came from leaders of this country. Richard Nixon had on his desk the old favorite, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going," and, of course, there is Vince Lombardi's dictum, "Winning isn't everything--it's the only thing."