My beloved but sucky Dolphins lost on Sunday. I wasn't surprised by that, because I knew Houston has our number, but I was disappointed by the catastrophe that was the end of the second quarter. I was hoping for a more competitive game.
But I've been thinking about the loss, bad teams, and sports in general.
Houston fans are pretty stoked after Sunday. Their team played great—doing what they needed to do to win—and the fans get to celebrate for a week.
Sports is entertainment. Objective fans hope for nothing more than a competitive game. I am not a fan of Denver or Pittsburgh (though I love Peyton Manning), but I was very happy after Sunday night's game between these two teams because it was a close, exciting game. I got what, as a fan, I hoped for.
And I can relate to Steelers' fans. My team lost, too. There is no upside to losing. It hurts. Period.
Yet I realized something interesting. In order for one team to win, the other team obviously has to lose, but teams that lose play a vital role in sports. The Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, perennial losers, are just as important to the game of football as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, perennial winners.
To have a positive, you must have a negative that coincides with it for contrast, or you really have no way of knowing what you're seeing. Alan Watts described this phenomenon well by comparing a hand placed against a white, blank background. The background gives birth to the hand because it is different from it, and vice versa. Another great analogy for this is the magnet. It has a positive and negative, but neither is better than the other, and for a magnet to exist at all it must contain both charges.
Positive and negative, up and down, good and bad, and winners and losers are neutral ideas until humans start tossing expectations around. “People should be good. My team should have won that game.”
In football, we root for the winners, but if we didn't have the losers, there would be no game!
And so I contented myself this week knowing that my team at least made a good portion of Texas happy. At least someone is happy.
To lose is a virtue. It means that we've given someone else an opportunity to win, and with that comes celebration and elation.
No one remembers the losers, but they're at least as much a part of the game as the winners are. They are bonded. Inseparable.