Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On winning (and losing?) gracefully

Final score,  Jan. 10's game
Abby has traditionally not been on the winning side of things when it comes to basketball. I'm talking from the time she started as an eight-year-old in third grade to now, at 14 and a freshman in high school.

Which is fine. I mean, it's hard to always lose, but on the upside, when you do scrape out a win, you're just so grateful to at least know what it feels like to be on the other end of things.

Anyway, what to the ever, right? Life lessons and all that. 

So the beginning of Abby's season this year, we had a bit of a tradition going on: Take whatever their team manage to score, double it and add five, and that was what the other team put down. It got tedious, but we could still appreciate the improvement of Abby's team, or a good game despite the final score.

When you're used to losing, that's just what you do.

But THEN. Last weekend, Abby's team pulled out a win--by four points, who cares, they played a team that was close to their own talent pool and it was awesome. And we were all like, well, it's good that they've had a taste of winning, anyway.

The next game they lost by two, but this team was better and and it was a dignified loss. And a heck of a game. Those girls gelled! They never gave up! It was as After School Special as you could get.

But then last Friday, they played a team that was just... I don't even know. It was a "JV 2" team, which means they had a junior and three sophomores playing, whereas our team was a true freshman extravaganza. We had six points in the first five minutes, and Johanna was like, are we going to win this one too? And I was like, well... I guess we'll see.

Because when you're used to losing, you're always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even though we were up by over 30, I spent that whole last quarter just waiting for it to completely fall apart. Except it didn't.

Anyway, the other team scored two points in the first quarter... and finally another four in the fourth. And our parents cheered for them because wow, it's hard losing by so much. (Been there, done that.) Our coach played the whole bench, so it wasn't like he was trying to blow them out, and Abby brought up an interesting point later, when she said that she felt bad about blocking their shots, but couldn't just go out there and not.

I've always kind of felt like the coaches who would pound us mercilessly into the ground (no matter how they played their benches) were jerks, and maybe even blame the players a bit, too, but on THIS side, I could see how you would want to try, to give it your best, no matter what the scoreboard said.

I thought our girls and parents were gracious winners, but maybe that's just because we know how to lose. I'm not a natural optimist, even though I've been married to one for 18 years, so I can't believe that this winning streak will continue. I do, however, appreciate how far the girls have come. They're fun to watch. Abby has improved so much even since last year, and it's a thrill to see her block shots with that 5'11" frame of hers (and her wingspan? Is a thing of beauty).

The end, I guess. I kind of forgot the point I was trying to make, except then it occurred to me that I never have a point, which takes the pressure off. Maybe that it's all in the perspective? The winning and the losing and what it feels like? And what it means to be graceful either way?

Yeah. Let's go with that. Because admitting that winning is way more fun would just make me sound like a jerk.

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