“Don’t be a sore loser.”
It’s the first tenet of good sportsmanship, and one we’re all taught from a very young age. Seems easy enough to live by… until we experience our first heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, down-to-the-last-second loss. Why at those times does it get so tough to swallow defeat? Games predicated upon physical prowess are a cut and dry barometer for talent, skill, preparation and mental toughness. Losing such a game calls into question players’ prowess in each of these areas and, thus, has the potential to be incredibly damaging. This is true in all competitions, whether blowouts or neck-and-neck close calls. In the case of the latter, loss comes with a special kind of sorrow and heightens from mental disappointment into a matter of the heart.
The fact of the matter is, though, that everyone makes mistakes. Even the pros. When it comes down to it, being a true Adrenalist is as much about getting through grime as it is getting to glory.
To prove it, here are four of the most painful defeats in professional sport.
Scott Norwood’s Miss
Traveling the road of professional football takes a tremendous toll on a player. Imagine months of lifting, running, hitting, memorizing plays, reading offenses and defenses and hoping the stars will align on every pass thrown and every run made. Then, after all that investment, the day comes, and the game clock ticks down to its last seconds. The score is close, and your team has a chance to take home the trophy. All you need to do is make a 47-yard field goal. You’ve done it thousands of times in practice and now is your chance to make those long, sweaty hours pay off. Will you be able to? Scott Norwood found himself in this very position and missed capturing a life-changing victory by mere inches, ceding the game to the opposing team and wondering forever what could have been if only the wind blew a bit harder.
Steve Bartman’s Catch
The year was 2003 and it seemed like outfielder Moises Alou and company were well on their way to taking home a big win. They were ahead 3-0, holding a series lead of 3-2, and everyone at Wrigley Field was feeling oh-so-good. Then, the unthinkable happened. In the eighth inning, in the second to last game of the series, spectator Steve Bartman reached out and caught a foul ball, taking the opportunity for an inning-ending out away from Alou, and, many believe, disrupting the momentum in a series. As for Bartman, he was escorted out of Wrigley field by a team of security as angry fans hurled debris at him, and his family had to be protected by a police detail for weeks following the incident. Tough break all around.
Chris Webber’s Timeout
This one’s sort of refreshing. In some odd way, it’s nice to know that a man who went on to achieve such a monumental degree of pro sports fame could have erred so incredibly, and more than once. In a championship game in 1993 that pitted Michigan against North Carolina, soon-to-be All-Star Chris Webber made an egregious traveling violation (which he got away with) and then dribbled furiously up the court only to, with 11 seconds left in the game, call a timeout that his team didn’t have left to call. The result: a technical foul assessed against Michigan, a Tar Heels win, and one of the worst sport blunders of all time.
Lindsey Jacobelli’s Fall
In 2006, fans were preemptively cheering for American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis’s gold medal win before she even crossed the finish line because, come on, she had it! They were wowed when she grabbed her board, sailing through the air on the last jump before the nearing finish line. Then they were shocked as she botched the landing and fell to a near stop as Switzerland’s Tanjan Frieden scooted right past her and into first place. It was a jaw-dropping finish – and for all the wrong reasons. After her unfortunate stunt, Jacobellis vowed she’d come back and win the gold in 2010, but never did. Goes to show us all: flash can be a poisonous ingredient in the recipe for success.