Winning doesn’t mater? KO losing

I came across a quote earlier today from a well-established racehorse trainer:

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, until you lose”

Winning ugly is still better than not winning at all.

Odds would indicate that jockeys should go on to the track expecting to lose. AP McCoy, the greatest of them all convinces himself that he is unbreakable so that he can ride without fear, go hell for leather and ensure the rest finish behind him, even if it is by the slimmest of margins. This has been effective for him many times, but even the 17 times champion has lost more often than he has won.

15-year-old Lydia Ko figured out at an early age how to win on the golf course. The New Zealander has just celebrated her third victory on the professional circuit by finishing top of the leader board at the Clearwater club in Christchurch. Last year she became the youngest winner, female or male of a professional event. It was surprising she took so long to do so since she made the cut in her first pro tournament when she was 12. Her talent, and position in the record books, is likely to be bridled by LPGA rules restricting her involvement on the tour because of her young age. As consolation, perhaps her competition would say, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you lose to a protégée likely to redefine the game as a whole.

Winning ugly can be best kind of victory. The relief of grinding it out, of putting every bit of you into it, when it feels like the playing time has dragged on and on for days, is worth it for the sole purpose of not losing again. Just ask the Wales rugby union team how it felt to beat France in Paris last weekend in the 6 Nations. After eight defeats in a row including a new record for home losses, they banged out an ugly win that was met with exhausted smiles of reprieve and hope that they might finally have dug themselves up out of the rut despite many commentators and pundits digging the boot in while they laid low. For Wales, winning mattered.

For reasons unknown to millions across the world, a few hapless people don’t support Manchester United. Apparently Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t to everyone’s taste and neither is the style of player he has instructed his team to produce. United have been criticised for not being spectacular enough of the time. They can be spectacular on occasion, knowing this means ruthless fans of the game want it more and more often, or all the time since that is the job of a footballer. The thing is, Fergie’s boys can still win playing ordinary.  Scoring goals late in a match have the same weight as a score in the first minute, chalking up the W’s is what leads to silverware at the end of the season. Arsenal and Liverpool can both play attractive football but can fail to convert style into substance, particularly within the league format. Not winning really maters to their fans.