The thrill of victory and agony of defeat

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

“It’s ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

– Yogi Berra, American former Major League baseball player and manager

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

As a kid, I heard those words spoken by Jim Kay of ABC Sports and never forgot them.

On the farm, we didn’t have a lot of time to watch sports or play any, for that matter.

Running a successful dairy operation took up most of my parents’ time and consequently, most of mine.

I do recall the occasionally rainy Saturday when my father would turn on the television and then lean back in his faux leather recliner with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

Before long, I would hear a familiar fanfare and the words,

“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”

Sometimes I would sit with my father and watch the show.

Most of the time, he had special “rainy day” chores lined up for me to outside.

I was never especially athletic and my brief forays into the arena usually ended in the agony of defeat.

It didn’t occur to me until years later that the phrase “the thrill of victory and agony of defeat” could also apply to life.

I have many friends who love athletic competition and most would likely agree that you don’t leave until the game is over.

If you think of life in terms of a sporting event, you wouldn’t think of leaving the field, rink, pitch or diamond until the buzzer sounded.

And likely, you wouldn’t think of calling a game because you had a notion of what the outcome might be when there was still time on the clock.

Sadly, that’s what many of us do. When the going gets tough and the odds are against us, we pack up our gear and head for the locker room.

To win at life takes perseverance.

You can’t show up, put in a half-hearted effort and expect to be crowned star of the game.

No one succeeds and no game is ever won without perseverance. It is perseverance that prompts us to continue to battle when the odds are not in our favour.

It is perseverance that moves us through our most difficult challenges.

It is perseverance that prompts us to look at our defeats not as crushing or insurmountable but rather as opportunities to learn, grow and to compete more powerfully, strategically and successfully the next time.

Perseverance is defined as the act of persisting or striving; continuing or repeating behaviours in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.

To put it quite simply, perseverance means to never give up.

Accomplishing anything worthwhile in life requires perseverance.

Big goals and small goals alike require a persistent commitment to their achievement.

A major component of perseverance is awareness. Years ago, one of my goals was to improve my self-esteem.

It’s still my goal today. I didn’t know much about self-esteem other than the fact I didn’t have much of it.

It’s tough to pursue something you know little about so one of my first goals was to find out as much as I could about the topic.

It’s no different than wanting to scale Mount Everest.

You don’t just show up at the foot of the mountain and start climbing.

A mentor of mine once said, “If you want to know how to do something ask someone who has done it.”

It’s true.

The best advice will usually come from those who have accomplished the feat (stood on the summit) or from those individuals who are well on their way to conquering it.

As with sports — and anything worthwhile in life — you must hold firm to the belief that what you’re attempting has value, that it is worthy of your best effort. That requires focus.

I have discovered that staying focused is vital to achieving anything worthwhile.

As important as physical conditioning is, so are mental and emotional conditioning: having the right mental attitude, a stick-to-itiveness that will keep you going, the ability to stay the course.

Equally important is the ability to shift gears on the fly, to make adjustments and tweaks when necessary.

Most successful game plans will allow room for changes and for the unexpected.

Achieving your goals and dreams will take time, so it’s important to pace yourself. Think of it as marathon.

The race is not always won by the fastest runner off the starting line.

Certainly, a strong start is important but equally crucial is a steady and persistent execution. I chuckled the other day when I saw a poster that read, “Even the turtle made it to the ark.”

And there will always be those people who try to dissuade you from pursuing your goals.

We’ve all witnessed the jerk in the stands who constantly yells obscenities at the players.

My best advice is to ignore the naysayers.

I remember reading once that challenging goals and big dreams take time; the impossible ones just take a little bit longer.

Expect resistance when you play in the game of life — internally and externally. Stay grounded. Keep it real.

American freelance writer, Robert Brault once said, “Stubbornly persist and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.”

I think that’s good advice.

The truth is that most people experience neither the thrill of victory nor the agony of defeat because they just won’t get into the game.

I think life is a full-contact sport and you can’t win if you don’t play — it’s really that simple. I also think the “human drama of athletic competition” can teach us much about life. It teaches us that most perceived limitations are just that: perception and seldom reality.

Outcomes are seldom foregone conclusions and we can transcend most anything if we’re willing to persevere.

And perhaps most importantly, in life as in any arena of athletic competition, remember: it ain’t over until it’s over.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Most Read