That Loser's A Winner

Housecoat Diaries

I donít know about you, but when my stories stop, so do I.

No stories, no-body.

Iím just a cup ó or maybe I should say a shot glass ó full of nothing but tell. No wonder I lose at poker, which reminds me of another aspect of great leisure: sportsmanship.

Iím somewhat of a carny. I run a little game of skill and chance called The Chicken Toss. This ainít Texas, and my game ainít chickenshit bingo (see for more on that), but what do you want for a buck in a one-horse town? The Chicken Toss is a chance to learn a little about humility and pro sports without having to watch TV or stick a needle in your ass.

Thereís a film professor at the University of Manitoba who is more of a mental than a physical athlete ó his name is George Toles ó and he told me once that to write you need to be able to tell on yourself. I think thatís sportsmanship.

Iíd like to follow that by admitting that I secretly like to lose at gambling ó but just a little. Just enough to keep me humble. Donít get me wrong, though. I like to win. But you learn more about what life is really about when youíre not the best or the loudest or the most loaded, no matter what kind of game youíre playing.

Itís like when Hank Williams sang, ďNo matter how I struggle and strive, Iíll never get out of this world alive.Ē Hank was obviously a man who understood how to tell on himself beautifully, and how to lose the biggest game of all with serious style. Competition is fine, but losing with class is where the real action is.

I think an interesting story would be a collection of interviews with people who lost big games ó the Super Bowl, the World Series of Poker, the Masters, etc. It would be fascinating to hear their stories about how the losses affected them. Itís one thing to endure being a half-assed weekend golfer, but itís quite another to be good enough to be second in the world at something ó but never first. It definitely takes sportsmanship to handle that kind of situation.

Itís nice to have stories about winning, but itís also important to be able to enjoy and talk about losing. The battle cry of the Chicken Toss is ďNo shame!Ē for good reason. Great playing always involves taking some chances, and those kinds of risks often lead to being exposed as more of a chump than a champion. Itís kind of like telling on yourself, admitting that you ainít so great after all and being OK with it.

Fair play and sportsmanship mean taking the time to listen to people. People need to expose themselves (so to speak) in order to fully tell their stories, and donít forget that you might need them to listen to you one day. They are your fellow players, after all.

Be nicer to them, damn it. Theyíll like you better when you itís your turn to win.