In the life of a top-level athlete - even one who has experienced great success - disappointment lurks around every corner. It touches even the truly great - the moment when a storybook ending turns into a horror story. Many casual observers believe that it is in these moments where an athlete's true character is revealed.
Sunday, reigning Masters champion Jordan Spieth held a 5-stroke lead as the golf tournament ("The Fastest Long Weekend In Sports") rounded into its final nine holes. Victory, and its attendant menswear prize, seemed in hand. And then...
Spieth melted down on the 12th hole, losing a lead he'd never regain to Danny Willett. How would he react? How would he deal with such disappointment? How can The Bad Talkers Of Sports shoehorn this into a dogwhistle narrative of Those Who Do Things The Right Way And Those Who Do Not?
I hope Cam Newton is watching Jordan Spieth's interview right now. To be a true professional you have to be able to face the music— mark schlereth (@markschlereth) April 10, 2016
[prints tweet out] [runs it through coffee grinder] [boils resultant powder on spoon] [injects into genitals] Mmmmm that's good analysis.
Mark Chmura hits the nail on the head here: I don't want athletes to be passionate or human or to bear the genuine disappointment of failure. Hell, I don't want athletes to even show signs of autonomous thought. Nah, man. Hang your head and clothe those who have bested you.
What a great sport.
Anyways, back to what Mark Fidrych was saying. We've got to teach our kids: winning isn't the most important thing: losing properly is. With that in mind, here's how I - a 5'-10" white-collar puff pastry who mostly tried to draw walks in middle-school softball - would deal with falling just short of various major sporting titles:
Scream "more like Wimbledumb", huck my racket into the crowd, and remind William and Kate that we're undefeated against Georges. Cry in the showers while covered in strawberries and cream.
Realize I'm going to lose with 10 laps left, ditch my Indy Car in favor of a Honda Odyssey. Drive the rest at 35 miles an hour with the right turn signal on. Point out afterwards that the stick-figure lady on my rear windshield is your wife.
The Boston Marathon
Show everyone that pooping on live TV isn't just for winners, and doesn't have to happen before the finish line.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
Thank Coach Calipari for the opportunity and announce that I'm forgoing my remaining three years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament
Frankly, I would've expected to lose, I mean, Connecticut. I'd handle this one fine.
World Series Of Poker
Immediately flee for Mexico. I didn't come by that buy-in honestly.
Any Award That Is Voted On By Sportswriters
Pay whatever it takes to have a private Bruce Springsteen concert in an empty arena with locked doors. Wouldn't even attend it myself. "Did you play all the obscure favorites, Bruce?" "Yeah, didn't you hear?" "Nah I was in the locker room listening to Migos, here's your check though"
The World Series
Every member of the opposing team is coming out to their cars later that night to find one of these little flags jammed in their tires.
The Stanley Cup Finals
Lie to the media and say that I played through six broken ribs. Immediately ascend to heaven on a wave of laudatory Facebook memes comparing me favorably to basketball players.
The NBA Finals
Blame it all on Kevin Love. Even if I don't play for his team.
The Super Bowl
Oh, I'm coming to Disney World, too.
Dream a little dream with one eye open, bitch.
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game
Barter any of the swag I've received to that point for a chest tattoo that reads "amateurism is a farce".
I'm gonna smile and put that green jacket on you. But I'm gonna make sure your shirt bunches at the shoulders.
Augusta don't play.