I have played hundreds of board and card games as the oldest child of four, as a mother and as a grandmother. In all of these activities there is a winner and often several losers. One of the truths I have observed over the years is that we have to learn how to lose. Or, more importantly, how not to be what my father always referred to as a “sore loser.”
We learn this skill slowly. Usually we “let” the littlest players win as they learn a new game. But after a while we begin to let them lose occasionally if that is how the game is going. When that happens we are sure to hear a variety of complaints, most often “that isn’t fair” or “you cheated.” No one likes the feeling of losing a game and the easiest way to stop those feelings is to blame the other players.
But over time we are taught, in a variety of settings, how to gracefully lose. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t upset, nor does it always quiet the inner voice saying “it isn’t fair,” but generally we learn to be “good sports.” We are expected to congratulate others on winning and to nurse our losses in private. At the end of many athletic games, for example, the two teams line up and the players shake each other’s hands.
Sad to say, some adults have never learned how to lose. When I see them I think of my brother throwing the Sorry board across the room when he was five years old and losing to me. And I wish someone would hug them and let them know they will be all right. Losing doesn’t make us losers. That’s another truth I learned when young.