Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winning isn't everything

With every game or sport where your opponent is just one other person there is always an equal number of winners as there are losers. Your odds of winning are just as good as your odds of losing, and those odds are equal to your opponents.

In say the game of Scrabble there can be up to four people playing and only one winner. That means your odds of winning are 25% but your odds of losing are 75%, thus it is more likely you will lose than win. If winning games were the major driving factor in playing them wouldn’t a game with odds in your favor be more appropriate? Now sure you could have a much larger vocabulary than your 3 opponents so that gives you an advantage, but then why are they playing? If they know they are going to lose due to an intellectual superiority difference why bother ever sitting down to play?

The reason is that simply winning the game shouldn’t be what makes the game fun. A term often used in war and political circles is that “the end does not justify the means”. You shouldn’t have to make sacrifices to fun simply to win; when the game stops being fun then it is time to quit in my opinion.

I don’t like blaming things on age or generation but I think people are being brought up to believe that everyone is a winner, and that isn’t the case. Everyone can’t win, there can only ever be 1 winner for a given game, bracket, or race. What needs to be emphasized is that participating should be fun, and that enjoyment should be your primary goal. Winning is fun, but like we’ve established there are always more losers than winners so you can’t count on always winning.

I ran track in High School. I was by no means a fast runner; I was slow by comparison to my team mates. I think I may have gotten a 2nd once in 3 years of running track but I doubt I even did that well. Why would I continue to do running events at track meets if I knew I was going to lose? Simple, I enjoyed it. I liked the feeling after each run; I liked how my body felt. Most of my friends that I hung out with in High School ran track with me so I got to socialize with them. Sure there was always the pipe dream that maybe I could win an event, but I knew it would take something more than I was willing to give to do it. I was bad at a sport and I continued to do it because it was fun.

The same applies to me and Chess. I love Chess but I never get to play and as such I’m not very good. Even if I did play more often I probably wouldn’t improve that much. I like the game and will play anyone even knowing I may lose. I just like the thought and strategy that goes into playing it.

Sure someone could read this and think; hey you’re a big loser just quit. That isn’t the point. The point is that participation should be fun. We as a society should teach people that not everyone can win but you should always try and you should enjoy the process and experience of participating. Winners get trophies, money, or maybe just bragging rights but if you were playing for the true enjoyment of the game that shouldn’t affect your self esteem. At the most it should drive you to try harder and beat them next time and if you can’t beat them remember, there are always more losers than winners so play to have fun.

1 comment:

  1. You can always improve *yourself*, and ultimately, that's the only metric that matters.

    Enjoying the ride is a good idea, though. It keeps you sane and happy. ;)