17 January 2022

Life Lesson

Though I will admit that things have improved as an adult, I still have a terrible temper.  I mean, like a really awful one.  And to make things worse, I also have a quick temper.  As I've said, it's all gotten better under control as I've grown up/aged/choose-your-own-adjective here.  I remember the only time I lost my temper at work - years ago - and for the rest of the day, everyone gave me LOTS of space, as in not coming near me or even making eye contact.  On the one hand, I was mortified that I had lost my temper at work, but it do I think made people realize that I actually had a tipping point, so I guess that part was good.

Anyway, I can remember that as a kid, one of my most favorite things to do was to play dominoes with my father.  He was really good at it, and my goal was to win a game against him, which was nearly impossible.  

Of course, being that I was six years old and he was eleventy-hundred years old (to me), and had played dominoes a lot longer, he knew things like strategy, what to look for based on the tiles the opponent played, etc.  This angered me to no end.  I knew he wasn't a cheater, but I would still get so incredibly angry when he would win yet again!  I remember one time when I was kicking up a particular fuss, my mother said to him, "Why can't you just let her win a few times," and he responded, "Because that isn't fair.  You don't always get to win, and you need to learn that.  If you can't be a good loser, maybe you don't deserve to win."  

Well.  I can recall at the time that even my six-year-old infuriated brain knew that he was on to something.  I realized that at home, I seldom got my own way, unless I was playing by myself and ordering my toys around.  And certainly at school, I wasn't doing just what I wanted to do, I did what the teachers wanted us to do.  Revelation!

Going forward after that, my challenge was always to be a good loser - at least on the outside - because frankly, it was just better.  For instance, it caused much less drama all the way around.  And it also allowed the other person/team to enjoy their victory, which should happen when you are the winner.

So why am I going on about this?  Because I wonder why it's OK for some people to be sore losers just because of their amazing talents.  Take the case of Tom Brady, the talented football quarterback who has become a living legend.  I do not deny that he is talented at what he does, in a way that leaves others in the dust.  He has an ability and a longevity that few athletes in any sport can match.  And yet, whenever things don't go his way, he is a really sore loser.  A few weeks ago, his team lost a game, not even scoring.  Every TV station showed him smashing an electronic tablet on the sidelines because he was so angry.  He said that it was because he is a "fierce competitor" - so taking that to its logical conclusion, people who don't throw or break things are not competitive enough?  This is just one example of his behavior when things don't go his way.  Yesterday, his team beat the Eagles (by a lot!) in a playoff game, and I didn't see any of the Eagles pitching fits on the sidelines (spoiler alert: that's for the fans to do, and they weren't playing at home, LOL. It's a joke, people, move on). 

And then of course, Novak Djokovic, the tennis player.  Again, someone with absolutely amazing physical capability, who has racked up so many victories that he is considered really hard to beat.  He refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, caught the virus but failed to report it, and after a long and wearying fight, was deported from Australia where he had traveled to play in the Australian Open.  And yes, there was a lot of back and forth and issues surrounding the whole event, but in the end, he didn't follow the rules and it's his own fault that he was sent home.  Yet, he insists that he is the victim.  And this is not a single incident of bad behavior - he makes my tantrums as a kid look like they were thrown by Pollyanna herself.  But again, he is an "elite athlete," a "true competitor," and somehow that allows his actions to be tolerated a lot of the time.

Of course, I could give you a million other examples in all areas, but these two are the ones currently at the front of my brain. I hope that even six-year-old, terrible-tempered me would see this behavior as inappropriate.  

But clearly the two people above, and many others in the world, should have had the experience of playing dominoes against my dad.  They'd be different people now.😊


Nance said...

Agree, agree. It all comes down to Entitlement, period. And, in the case of professional athletes, the ridiculous emphasis this country places on Sports in general. I will never, ever understand it.

karen said...

I have a quick temper too and I tend to ruminate...it's not easy trying not to do either. I just try to accept it! as for the tennis thing, rules are rules, everyone else followed them.

Ellen D. said...

Your Dad taught you a valuable lesson. It is important to learn how to be a good loser and/or a gracious winner.

Caffeine Girl said...

It is especially not OK to be a sore looser when you have so many wins! Thinking also of Aaron Rodgers.

I think that anger is a symptom of some emotion. For me, anger used to be how I expressed anxiety. And I could whip up quite a storm. Raising kids helped me get it under control most of the time. I didn't want to be a screamer like my mom.

Araignee said...

We used to play dominoes with my parents every Saturday night and my dad would turn inside out if my mom won-which she usually did. We stopped playing because he couldn't handle losing. I never realized how much I was like him until I started working on the ice skating production teams. I did not take losing lightly after all the work I had put in with the costumes and the scenery. I recognize it as a fault and steer clear of situations that would bring out that ugly in me. Sports and I don't get along. The few times I've been interested in an outcome it wasn't pretty. Winning is easy. Losing is hard.

Kim in Oregon said...

These people you mentioned get coddled when they lose their tempers--they probably even pay people to coddle them!

I only really lost it--shouting lost it, melt down lost it--once at the University. The person who I lost it on (who deserved it, honestly, she was circumventing the established faculty search process by making sure her preferred candidate was highlighted and a second candidate was sidelined) threatened multiple times to report me for creating an unsafe workspace. Maybe she did. I never heard about it.

In retrospect, I could have been more adult about it but losing it like that certainly brought attention to my colleagues bad and inappropriate choices. I think if I had a 'quiet word' with her it wouldn't have happened.

But anyway. Understanding one's temper is a bit part of being a grown up, and some of these coddled athletes aren't there yet.

KSD said...

My father wouldn't let me rejoice in/gloat over winning. He wanted me to find joy in the game, in the playing. Being a bad loser was out of the question.

Kym said...

I never played dominoes as a kid (the real dominoes; I did a lot of stacking and knocking over. . . ). My dad and I played cribbage -- and I never won. My dad was patient, but also an excellent player (and there's a lot of scoring subtlety with cribbage, so a lot to learn). I, too, learned to be a good sport! I have NO tolerance for coddled sports-millionaires. None. Can't stand "glitzy" sports because of the attitudes (and the money), etc. I have a very even temper and a very long fuse. But when it finally goes? Watch.Out.

teabird said...

Agree agree agree. It's one thing to throw a tantrum about a domino game - quite another where you could infect dozens of other people with a virus and that dastardly Privilege!

Helen said...

It's disappointing to see pro athletes that can't handle losing. I get it, I don't want to lose either, I hate it, but I'll shake hands, congratulate and take myself to my private bathroom and cry/scream if I really need to. And as to trying to 'sneak' into a country that already set down their COVID rules in plain terms, I would have loved it if they had put him on the next plane, or better slow boat, out of there. You may have talent, but that does not put you or your health above anyone else's. Okay, off the soapbox.