Losers, Sore and Otherwise
On Monday, I was talking to a friend about the Super Bowl. Talking about Denver’s victory … and more specifically the demise of Cam Newton’s miracle season … he said, I’m always glad to see a showboater get his comeuppance. It is an old fashioned sentiment to be sure. I haven’t heard anyone under 50 call an athlete a showboater for years, mainly because what we used to call showboating is the norm in sports these days. And comeuppance? Who says that anymore? But it captured my sentiment exactly. OK, for those of you with Younger Eyes:
Showboating: One who seeks attention by ostentatious behavior; a showoff.
Comeuppance: a fate or punishment that’s deserved, like an arrogant trash-talking quarterback who fumbles the ball on the last play and loses the game for his team (Really. That definition is right here).
The problem isn’t that Cam Newton was a sore loser … it’s that he sees it as the only alternative to being a loser. That’s what he said: Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser. Look across the field, Cam. That guy endured… with grace … a devastating season in which injuries and age reduced him to being a back-up quarterback then a starting quarterback whose only job was to manage the game so the defense could win it. Note: not a loser. Now, the Huffington Post subtly tried to imply that race was somehow involved because Peyton once walked off the field after a loss without shaking hands and nobody made a deal of it. Hardly the the embarrassing, petulant sulk Newton gave us in his post game conference, is it? Talk about Johnny Manziel, Huff Post, if you want to compare apples to apples.
Yes, Cam’s young, but not that young. He’s 26 not 16. But I have a theory. They say that people who start using drugs heavily in their teens remain stuck developmentally at the age they started using, even as they age chronologically. I’d suggest that many of these young football stars exhibit the same phenomenon the year they begin to be treated as if they are football’s second coming and begin to realize there are millions in their future. It takes away their need to learn the life-rules that most of us have to learn to function in the world and obviates the need for such old fashioned notions as sportsmanship. Does anyone remember that? Or that demonstrating it a loss doesn’t make you a loser?
Hopefully Cam will figure that out.