Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” ~ “Nuke” Laloosh, Bull Durham.  

National Public Radio recently suggested that, as we age, we lose our competitive drive. We play fewer sports, ergo we are less interested in winning or losing.

Some researchers speculate that this lost interest in playing sports – and in winning – comes from the “negative reactions to not winning” in our youth. In other words, blame your parents for Earl Weavering at your Little League games and for instilling in you the old adage, “It’s not whether you win or lose, Sweetie. It’s just win.”

I don’t usually argue with NPR. And, I realize that taking offense to this implies that I’m somehow older than I realized.  (Young enough to still remember what I heard on NPR a week ago, but old enough to use Earl Weaver to make a point.)

Do fewer people over 40 or 50 play sports?

Well, sure. Point, NPR.

Not everybody can hang in like an Ichiro Suzuki or Bartolo Colon, the 42-year-old New York dumpling, who gets more endearing with every additional year and every extra pound.


Look Out!

But, unlike Bartolo, it gets a little harder to find time to play as we get older. Sure, we lose the physical ability. Who wants to get tackled on a football field when you’ve already got bursitis?

But, we also lose the time. We lose opportunities and, eventually, teammates.

Hey, we’ve got better things to do than volleyball anyway.

I hate volleyball. One time in junior high I was hit in the face by a volleyball, cracking my glasses and bending my headgear up toward my nose.

Yes, I wore a headgear. As though wearing braces wasn’t humiliating enough. You can stop chortling now. (You know I can’t hear you.)

In any event, is there no wonder I hate volleyball? That upon leaving high school, I promised myself there would be no time in my life where I would ever – ever – play volleyball again? Screw you corporate team-building retreats. Family picnics, or that awful weekend at the beach with friends who binge-played volleyball and Pictionary, which is even more hateful than volleyball, except that a game of Pictionary never crushed my teenage headgear.

no volleyball

There are even anti-volleyball tee-shirts! Clearly I’m not the only one with headgear stories.

But, just because volleyball sucks, doesn’t mean that I’m no longer competitive. I still like to win.

When you’re 12, what have you got? Spelling Bees, Science Fairs, and sports. That’s about it.

Once we’re grown we have all sorts of interesting competitive outlets.

I got contests up the yin-yang.

Life itself is a competition – just staying healthy and upright takes some competitive mojo when you hit this middle part.

Sometimes I feel like I’m competing with time. And, everything else.

We compete in business, with our families, with our friends and neighbors. We might not say we are, but we’ll peek over the fence from time to time to see what the other guys are doing, and to ensure, at the very least, that we don’t get left behind.

We compete with ourselves.

(Don’t believe that? Researchers estimate that 60 million of us will be using fitness trackers – like FitBit –  by 2018.  The average tracker? A woman, aged 35 to 54. Why wear a fitness tracker when you already know it’s important to exercise and you already know how much you need? For motivation … by competing with yourself and with other FitBitters.)


We compete to win a good job, we roll the dice with pensions, IRAs, and “can’t miss” investment opportunities. We try to beat the system; some of us even try to game the system. We compete to get a deal … and we check with others to see who got the best deal.

You may think I’m against competition because I’m a Yoga teacher (Om, Shanti to you!). I’m not. I think friendly competition is a good motivator and a good way to challenge ourselves, explore our edges, and, oftentimes, do things we didn’t know we were capable of doing.

Who doesn’t want to do a little better? Be a little better? We try a little harder. We challenge ourselves. We try to win.

And, we don’t lose that spirit just because we’ve outgrown Little League.

Still not convinced? You ought to head to your nearest County Fair. (Really, you should go.)

I live in Madison County, Virginia. 13,200 people spread wide over 322 square miles of mostly rural farmland and mountains.

its pretty here

Our nearest neighbors.

The County Fair runs for nearly a week.  Rickety rides, demolition derbies, funnel cakes, and fried Snickers.  And, Home and Garden competitions.


New York State Fair, 1900. Public Domain

Who’s competing? Nearly everyone it seems.

Forty-six separate judging categories for artwork alone. Twenty-nine categories for farm crops, including seven different categories for hay.

Hay? They are judging who has the best hay.  (You think your cousin’s 400-shot Shutterfly album of her grandson’s high-school graduation is dull?  Imagine being the hay judge.)

All told, there are 411 competitions at our County Fair. That’s right, 411.  From baked goods and canning, to arts and crafts and quilts, to flowers and garden crops.

Vegetable Exhibit Custer County Fair Broken Bow NE 1886

Custer County Fair, Broken Bow, Nebraska, 1886.  Nebraska State Historical Society, RG2608.PH:000000-002964, via the Library of Congress

Yup, they were competing for the best pumpkins back in 1886.

Most wild animals compete for food and mates. So do we.

In writing this, two friends told me that I had to mention how “cutthroat” older women are when they play bridge. I have no idea what bridge is except that it has something to do with cards, and nothing to do with bridges, but I will take them at their word.

My Yoga students compete with themselves and each other, even when I tell them not to. Some of them compete to see who is competing the least. I can only explain this phenomenon by saying it’s hard to explain, but it’s true.

Competing is a natural thing.

And, while some things slow down as we get older, it doesn’t mean they stop.

NPR thinks that because we play fewer sports as we age we lose our competitive zeal.

But, playing sports is not the only competition out there and there are many other ways to get good, healthy exercise.

Today, NPR, you’re wrong and I’m right.

Ergo, I win.



13 thoughts on “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose.

  1. Someone should tell NPR that if you’re not competing at something in some way it’s likely because you’re dead or in a coma. I may not be able to participate in physical sports, but I compete with myself every time I knit a Christmas stocking for a new great niece or nephew to make this one faster, better and prettier than the last one.

    • That’s why I always tell my Yoga students that a little competition can be a fine motivator … as long as it doesn’t lead to harshness, frustration, or criticism. It’s a good thing to always try to do a little better, isn’t it? :)

  2. Who says we don’t want to compete? NPR? Who are they? Oh yeah, they are the folks with the non-commercial radio that breaks every few minutes to tell me that their corporate sponsors are really good folks and have interesting something or other that I should purchase and are competing with commercial radio who I have heard do the same thing.

    Anyway, I still compete. WordPress told me that I needed four minutes to read your wonderful post. I read it in less than three. Chalk it up to good genes and health, lots of reading over these many years and an excellent grade school education. Most of all however, you write so well and it is so easy to get engaged and stay with it all the way through.

    I’ve seen the Marlins play three times this year. Ichiro is the main attraction. What a great ballplayer he is.

    • Aww, thank you Bruce. And, I agree with you on NPR … I’m not sure who drew the line between commercial and non-commercial radio, it seems awfully blurry to me, too.

      I know, Ichiro is still beautiful to watch, isn’t he?

      I admit, I compete with bloggers all the time … I follow blogs, like yours, enjoy reading them and then use the posts as my own motivation to write and to set the “quality bar” even higher for myself. I try to become a better writer (and a better thinker) because I’m inspired with the bloggers all around me. A little friendly competition! :)

  3. I was hit in the head by a basketball in fifth grade, forcing me to bite my tongue painfully. That took care of any competing in high school, but I took up tennis in college and played in a league in Grand Forks with some very competitive players. We may not physically compete today, but competitive intensity, if you will, never dwindles, such as my passion for THE PACK and your devotion to the Os and Wahoos.

  4. I do agree about us ‘grown ups’ still staying competitive, especially when it comes to life in general. Even while coaching I preach fun and learning to the seven year olds, but inside I’m still hoping for them to not just do well, but win! I’m coming out of retirement to play some softball next weekend, so we’ll see how that goes…
    Oh, and congrats to the O’s for beating the craps out of the Tigs the last two games (Detroit is done…sell, sell, sell…)

    • Be sure to stretch before softball! :)

      Yes, it was fun to watch the O’s finally win a series (it’s been nearly a month since that happened) even if it was at the expense of the Tigers. Still, beating David Price is always sweet (if the Kitties would like to “sell” him to the O’s … well, I’m not a fan of mid-season rentals, but we certainly can talk!)

  5. If i could beam up one person right now, it would be Gloria from the movie “white man can’t jump.” That scene of her philosophizing about ‘sometimes when we lose, we actually win.’ They were on the back of a city bus in LA and since I can’t remember the rest of her quote, I’ll have to go and watch the entire movie all over again. Thanks a lot.(Insert smiley face)

  6. Pingback: A Call To Arms | The Baseball Bloggess

  7. Pingback: My Metropolitan Dumpling | The Baseball Bloggess

Say "Hey" ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.