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Win with Class and Lose with Dignity

November 10th, 2015     By Kevin Kush, Boys Town Football Coach and Teacher

Respect, Youth Sports

In sports, there’s nothing more unattractive and unpleasant than poor winners and sore losers. Poor winners brag about their performance and blow their own horn to make themselves look good. They don’t care if they bother or upset their opponents, teammates, or coaches. Sore losers complain, criticize, and make excuses for their performance or the outcome. Instead of taking ownership and responsibility for what happened in a game or match, they blame the weather, officials, coaches, teammates, opponents, or just bad luck.

What do good winners and good losers look like? Good winners are respectful, humble, and kind to teammates and opponents. They aren’t concerned about building themselves up in the eyes of others. Instead, they praise their opponents’ effort, compliment their fine play, and encourage them to continue working hard. These players have a selfless mindset and it shows in what they do and say to others.

Good losers are level-headed, optimistic, and encouraging to their teammates, coaches, and fans. They find the good in the bad and the not-so-good, and they understand it’s okay to fail and be disappointed at times. Good losers don’t belittle opponents, blame officials, complain about coaching decisions and strategy, or criticize their teammates’ play. They understand that you win as a team and lose as a team, and that no one person determines either outcome. Also, they realize that many times after a loss, the best thing they can do is simply tip their caps to their opponents’ good play and move on.

These are the traits, behaviors, and actions to teach kids and players. What youngsters say and do during and after wins and losses is more than a reflection on just them – it’s also a reflection on you, the team, parents, and the school or organization. When young people are humble in victory and help others get back up from a defeat, they’ve learned something much more important than how to throw for a touchdown or score a goal.

At Boys Town, we take this skill seriously – win or lose – and it shows. Here’s a letter from a fan of an opponent that Boys Town’s football team recently played in state football playoffs.

Dear Boys Town Administration:

I am a lifelong Holdrege resident. One of my passions in life is high school athletics. I have been attending high school sports my entire life and it has probably been over 20 years since I have missed a home football or basketball game. I have not missed many games on the road either.

With that said, I must tell you that in all that time, I may have never witnessed a finer performance and display of character by the Boys Town football team this past Friday night. My opinion has been shared by many others in the community also, as well as by many of our student-athletes that were competing Friday night.

I stood just off the track after the game to congratulate a few of your players that I felt gave an inspired effort during the game. Much to my surprise, each person that I congratulated and wished well responded with a “Thank you, Sir.”

I was also so impressed with the following that made the drive out from Omaha. Even the many groups of students that made the trip that I spoke with in the parking lot before and after the game displayed such a high degree of character, while being respectful to the Holdrege fans that asked them how the drive out was.

Great job, Boys Town High School. You earned a fan out in the middle of Nebraska.


Richard Watson
Vice President
First State Bank of Holdrege


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