Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 8, 2007

It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose…

I’ve heard that addage (that ends “it’s how you play the game”) for a long time.  I’m sure many of us have.  And I’m still learning it.

I’m not an athlete.  Never was, really.  If I really worked at it, I might be warming a bench somewhere in the NBA right now (kidding, but who knows?).  I’m probably in the worst shape of my life right now, physically.  More fast food dinners than I would care to admit, lately.  I left my umbrella in the car Wednesday morning at the golf course, jogged back to the car to retrieve it, and by that bit of exercise alone, woke up with a shin splint on Thursday morning.  😛

But I’ve always jumped at the chance to play sports of any kind.  Competition brings out, uh…well, the worst in me.  Most of the time, I’m more concerned with winning than having fun.

To the point where I really have a hard time having fun anymore.

Cases in point:  Golf on Tuesday night.  Shot a 57, with two pars.  Golf on Wednesday morning.  Did a little better.  45 and a 49.  Most of my game right now is like NASCAR.  Turn LEFT.  🙂  More golf on Friday morning with livingpalm’s hubby B, livingpalm’s Dad, and another friend from church.

There’s details I’d like to mention about Friday morning’s round.  I rode with LP’s Dad, who’s a pastor at my church.  Good conversation.  I actually was encouraging him when he was struggling on some holes, recognizing some same mind games and attitudes in his voice and language that I struggle with.  I even mentioned the difference between goals and desires, which he has actually taught on at Men’s Group at church.  I was almost having fun.  But that competition thing was lurking, waiting for the opportunity to jump out.

And on #15, it did.

I finally figured out something I was doing wrong in my swing, got rid of my shanks for a moment, and hit the straightest, longest drive I’ve hit in a while.  The hole measures 361 yards, and I know I didn’t have a full wedge into the green, so I’m thinking it was at least a 260-275 yard drive.

And out came pride and the “competitive spirit”, which in my life means “I gotta do well here or it’ll be embarrassing.”, or yes, maybe even, “finally, a chance to show these guys up.”  (sigh – sorry, guys)

And it took me three shots (duff, chunk, long chip) to get on the green from 90 yards.

I made the bogey putt.  But my day was done.  Fun over.  Really starting to fume a little.

Two shots Out of Bounds the next hole, carded a 7.  On a par 3.  😦

Parred the next hole.  OK.  Here we go.

Now #18.  Hardest hole on the course.  I’m tired.  Shank my drive (left, of course).  Slice my next shot.  Duff my next one into the woods.  End up with a snowman (8) to end the day.  And, after all that talk with LP’s dad about goals and desires, I actually went into 5-year-old mode and threw my pitching wedge.  B and his partner didn’t even wait on us.  I don’t blame ’em.

Same thing happened in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Norwich this weekend.  I’m playing with three other guys, one of which has entered the tournament for 10 years in a row and never won a game.  It’s my second year.  We got our butts whooped.  15-7, 14-9 (called on time), and, finally, in what the tournament lovingly calls “The Toilet Bowl”, we lost 10-9 in sudden death, after I actually hit a desperation 3-pointer (which counts as 2 in this format) to send it to overtime, to a team that only had 3 players (normal teams have 4, one for a substitution during the game).

And it was still bothering me this morning.  Both the fact that we lost, and the fact that it was bothering me, because I knew it shouldn’t.  When will I be able to do anything in life, not just sports, because I love doing it, not because there’s some kind of goal or fear attached to it?  (sigh)

And finally, God got a word in edge-wise and said, “is knowing Me enough?”  He has to ask me that every once in a while.  I’m glad He does.  It puts things in perspective.  Maturity doesn’t happen overnight, I guess.  😉



  1. I am wondering if you are maybe too hard on yourself…… try playing the sports you love for fun and don’t keep score….or try such activities as swimming,hiking,playing catch,frizbee,miniture golf..go for a bike ride or long walk…..:)

  2. Thanks, PL. I am too hard on myself. This I know. I just have some learning/growing to do. 🙂

  3. it’s like Danny used to tell me, “Don’t expect your flesh to grow up!’
    at the same time, be cautious of being hard on yourself for being hard on yourself. : )
    “come unto me…and i will give you rest.”

  4. Good point, LP. I’ve been told a few times that no one’s harder on me than me. 🙂

  5. In a way you have to love those moments so you can look back on it and ask yourself, how can I grow through this. Fun stuff! Or is it??

  6. I have a little competitive spirit lurking that I have to be very careful of. When something that should be fun stops being fun because I let it stop being fun (did that make sense?) – then it is time for me to stop.

    I used to play racquetball a lot (I miss it) but I sometimes wouldn’t keep score just because of this. I wanted to have fun playing it, not need to win.

    I think it can be a big stumbling block for sports (especially for guys). But like PL said, don’t be TOO hard on yourself, just let God use these as teachable moments.

  7. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. It’s great to have encouraging friends when I can’t encourage myself or hear God doing it (so He chooses to do it through others).

  8. […] to a Post Script to “It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose…”, my post from the […]

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