Tie Break

TieBreakI just finished watching the second set of the 2015 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Tennis Championship on ESPN:  Federer versus Djokovic. The game score tied at 6 to 6. They are starting the Tie Break. Federer is up by one point. Djokovic is fixed on the next point.

When one wins, the other loses.

The entry list for the men’s championship was 99 names long.  That means one winner, and 98 losers. It’s the nature of games.  It’s true in every sport: baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, soccer and tennis.

For athletes, playing their sport is their job and career.  It can even become their identity.  If they win, they are winners.  If they lose… well, you get the idea.

Are you a winner?

Shocking question isn’t it.  Maybe even threatening.  Nobody wants to be a loser, although many feel like it.

You apply for a job along with 200 others.  One person gets the job, 199 don’t.  There is a promotion opportunity.  You are one of three being considered.  Only one of you will get it.  Will you be one of the two who don’t?

Such comparison and competition is hard on the emotions.  It stimulates anger and fear.  Maybe after a string of losses–depression.

It’s the way the world works.

Improve your odds

Change your perspective.   Let’s start with the ABC TV sports program that ran 37 seasons from 1961 to 1998.   The opening minute announced…

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport…

the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat…

the human drama of athletic competition…

This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!

Most of us remember the key phrase as thrill of victory or agony of defeat.  However, it says and.  Over the course of any endeavor, you win some and lose some. Think about the thrill of victory in the midst of the agony of defeat.  You may lose, but you are getting better.

In baseball, 300 is a good batting average.  That means seven outs for every ten times at bat.  Whatever your win-lose record, don’t take it personally.  Your game, work, and performance are not who you are.  They’re what you do.

Play your game.  Work with what works for you.  When young shepherd boy David went up against the much larger, battle-tested Goliath, he turned down the use of sword and shield.  He used a sling and a rock.

Keep getting better.  Play and work with people who are better.  Know your talents and add more skills and knowledge.

God’s Win-Win Approach

This is the way God works.  Let’s look at two sports from a wholly different angle.  Or maybe I should say, a holy point of view.  Consider the verses from 1 Corinthian 9:24-27

Track and field…

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,

but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.

They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;


I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave,

so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.   

Is it possible that God keeps score, but He is using a different point system?  Is He viewing each of us as individuals and communities?  Is His coaching teamwork powered by a different source?

What do you think?

I just wanted to start the discussion.  It’s your turn now.  Would you please reply with comments below?

In the meantime as I am finishing the article, the Wimbledon Championship is over and they are about to make the award.  I just now heard who won this match.

The runner up – Federer – is now praising the winner Djokovic.  While smiling, he proclaimed, “I am still very hungry and motivated to keep playing.”  Me too!  Hope the same for you too.


Photo: Brian Ray/ ESPN broadcast of Wimbledon 2015

Comments 6

  1. Great piece Brian! It reminds me of Mother Teresa’s quote: “It is for us to make the effort. The result is always in God’s hands.”

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  2. I believe we learn the most from being a good loser, in other words learning to cope with not being on top, the disappointment, shame, yes the agony of defeat. But you have to put things in perspective and learn there will always be times to win and times to lose. Learn from each loss, be humble in those times and ready to get back at it next time. Don’t be too hard on yourself during these times, it’s easy to get beat down and sometimes we are our own worst critic. In a normal set of tennis, if I win the set 6-3, I will still lose approximately 40% of the points during that set, if I can’t cope with that 40% during the set, there is no way I will be able to have the fortitude to be ready when the winning starts to happen. It’s easy to talk about being a good loser, many people have, what about being a good winner. The “good” winner shows you a lot of character as well, how would Jesus WIN? I think He would be gracious, humble, and certainly would spread the thanks all around. I like a winner that can do that. Its really speaks volumes when a person can lose gracious and win humble. Be ready for both and shine during both.

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  3. Great perspective. I like the idea of looking for your personal win in a situation that others would call a loss.

  4. Great article Brian. More often than most of us may care to admit, we focus more on the “loss” vs the skills that we may have developed while prepping for the opportunity, and transferring those skills(new or enhanced)to the next opportunity. Its human nature to take the lumps but it’s good to be reminded via an article like yours that there’s growth even in the face of disappointment. It takes a while to get there, but an article like this can serve as a catalyst to “get back in gear”.

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