Latimer: I’m not a sporty person in the slightest, but I think I had a weirdly profound experience at a rugby match last weekend.
Thinking back on it now, I’m feel like – ‘wow, I learned so much – about winning… about losing, and sportsmanship! Yet, I’m kind of freaking myself out about how philosophical I got about it!’ – let me take you on a journey of my weird thought process as I watched Ireland face down the mighty All Blacks!
The All Blacks are the national rugby team of New Zealand… and considered the best team in the world. I was overjoyed to get tickets to this match. And I couldn’t wait to see the All Blacks do the Haka live! (it’s an amazing Maori tribal display they do before all their matches – it’s spine-chilling – here is the one displayed at the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand)
The atmosphere at the match was electric.
I’m not a person that gets invested in sports (hardly ever) – I don’t jump up on my feet screaming until I’m hoarse –
I thought I would be like this:
But I was actually like this:
I felt so swept up in the emotion of being proud of the Irish team on the pitch.
But okay, in the end, even though we ALMOST won, Ireland lost. And so it goes – in sport, it doesn’t always work out that the team that deserves to win, actually wins. Here’s where I learn about the bitter reality of losing.
And Ireland has NEVER, ever, beaten the All Blacks – nope, not once. This match we came the closest we ever had before – it was our best chance, we ALMOST had it.
The clock had ticked right down to the end… we were winning (22 to 17) when the game entered it’s final play! Then BOOM – swift and sleek, like a giant panther over the line, the All Blacks scored a TRY! Now, we were even, 22 a piece… Then they converted a kick and bang, it was all over for us – All Blacks won 24 to 22.
We came so close and we lost.
It made me sad, sure, but (this is where I learned about the nature of sports and sportsmanship, and got kind of zen about the whole experience) – the whole experience, coming that close to winning something, having tried so very hard – it’s life isn’t it?
I never thought I’d say this, but sports is like an analogy for life (come with me on this) – you play the game, you win or you don’t, but you keep trying and that’s the key. It’s not about accepting that you lost, it’s about believing that you’ll win next time.
Rob Kearney, one of the Irish players said that the game isn’t over until the very last moment. You need to keep your head in the game. You need to keep focus until the absolute end – because if you don’t you can lose in a split second (as we had).
In a way that’s a good thing – it means that nothing is done, hopeless or final, until the very, very, very last moment. Someday Ireland will be the ones that swoop in at the very last breath and win – we all have our day!
And, even though it still hurts me to think about how we almost won (it honestly, bizarrely squeezes my heart a little) – I think the way people in sports handle defeat is something to be admired!
Thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson!