Winning Isn’t Everything, It’s the Only Thing
Published 16 Jun 2017
This phrase is made famous by Vince Lombardi formerly Green Bay Packer’s (NFL) coach. Many today would not be able to realize that according to the biographical sketch of the coach, Lombardi’s original statement was exactly that “Winning isn’t everything but making the effort to win is” (Maraniss, 2000). This quote has become sports’ most quotable phrase in history. This phrase epitomizes unregulated sense of extreme competition which has pervaded the American Sports history and eventually being applied on other facets of human interactions. Within the customs and traditions of contemporary American society where success has become an idol, with assets like wealth as gauge for acceptability and where the obvious determinant of the use of power lies in possessions, the words supposedly attributed to Lombardi has turned out to be the most important motivating phrase. I don’t believe that winning is everything. Many people took this as an oath for their life’s quest- from athletic podiums and stadiums to school house cheers.
Joining in any competition or any endeavor just to win is not a healthy disposition to hold for any person. Experts on the study of human behavior say that any form of obsession is in the realm of sub normalcy and the person may one day see the repercussions in his relationships, in his health and his overall functioning. On the other hand, many individuals today from the Olympics to small town contests, who work as competition coordinators, underscore participation, sharing, and involvement over competition in itself. Nevertheless, parents and guardians of competitors or participants care much about the results of the contests because nobody can deny that success and winning are inseparable entities.
The question now would be how to exhibit excellence and achievement without thinking about winning? There lies a paradox. In whatever routine evaluation is done on the effort made to calculate the mistakes and errors as well as provide a basis for future improvement. Because winning is not everything and effort is more important, it is still undeniably difficult where to draw the line between mere competitiveness or the singular motive of putting in the effort.
Moreover, it is realistic to admit that without a sense of competition, any sports activity or contest will no longer be much fun for participating teams or individuals and their respective families. In addition, we cannot eliminate altogether any form of competition because of this reality. There is big money in sports and human nature cannot resist the many opportunities and privileges as their by-products. Many live and breathe just to win and make it their lifelong pursuit. For the rest, the constant adrenalin rush is all the more tempting. However, there are those who look at it with a sense of discipline. For the select few who can stretch and sustain themselves by enjoying the healthy physical side of the exercise, they do not steer themselves way clear from it all. Rather, they get the fulfillment from learning to “not win.”
Clearly, we enjoy sports and competitions because we enjoy the exhilaration of winning. Probably the key here lies in redefining winning in terms of specific goals and how they are achieved and rewarded.
- David Maraniss. When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi. Simon & Schuster, 2000. (Chapter 21, “Winning Isn’t Everything” and Chapter 22, “It’s the Only Thing.”)
- Steven J. Overman, “’Winning isn’t Everything. It’s the Only Thing’: The Origin, Attributions and Influence of a Famous Football Quote,” Football Studies. Volume 2 Issue 2 (October 1999).