West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Winning with Grace

"There's no such thing as a gracious winner because deep down inside he's thinking --'I'm better than you are."'

The preceding automobile advertisement really irks me. I completely disagree with the premise, and so do other true athletes and all decent people as well.

The statement is not only a slap 'in the face of good sportsmanship, but also the antithesis of all that is positive about our society. Allow me to share with you a non-athletic anecdote. It demonstrates that winners do care about their opponents, and our youngsters are the hope for the future.

Listen carefully; it's a good Christmas story.
About 10 years ago, Warwood Junior High School, Wheeling, WV (where I teach) was in the midst of its annual student council elections. A young seventh grade boy had the moxie to challenge a ninth grade girl i for the office of treasurer. She was running for re-election and very popular with the entire student body.

The day of the election the candidates are required to speak at an assembly in front of all the students in the gym. Certainly, a scary experience for any of us adults, let alone junior-high adolescents. In fact, did you know that human psychologists have learned that people fear speaking in public more than they fear dying.

Well, our boy in question was ready for his test in the oratory arena. His outline was neatly written on note cards. Even as his political adversary was speaking, he was studying well-rehearsed lines. Now it was his turn to speak.

Dressed in his impressive three-piece suit, this young statesman approached the podium. He began the speech with all the assertiveness of a polished politician. Then he was confronted with every novice orator's nightmare. His cards got mixed up, and even though he knew the speech by heart -- he panicked!

This 12 year-old boy just stood there fidgiding, looking at his 300-plus peers sitting in the bleachers. As he stared into their faces, a tear rolled down his cheek He turned around, walked back to his seat, and sat down.

Forgive me for using a clique, but you could literally "hear a very small pin drop in the stands. Every student present in that gymnasium felt for him. They intuitively knew how they would have felt if it were them up there.

His experienced opponent had more moisture on her countenance than he did. As she hugged him after the assembly, students and faculty members immediately came over to console him as well.

This youth, as expected, lost that election. But he gained the admiration of every student and teacher in our school, and later became student council president.

So don't tell me, "I'm better than you are." On any given day, a dedicated athlete can defeat a rival who previously beat him or her; and the true competitor knows that. God loves everyone.

Mat Message
"Laugh at yourself first before anyone else can."
- Elsa Maxwell

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