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On victory

In Football, Long form on September 8, 2011 at 11:33 am

Everyone who’s seen “Friday Night Lights” knows the locker room speech Coach Gaines gives his team in the desperate middle of their final game. What could easily have been a conventional St. Crispin’s Day pep talk about courage, determination, and give-em-hell spirit was a touching, plain-spoken address about the meaning of “perfection” and the importance of winning. “To me being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.”

Gaines’s speech is an oustanding moment, but he has another interesting if less memorable quote about the importance of winning. Talking with his stoic quarterback, he says, “It took me a long time to realize that there ain’t much difference between winning and losing, except for how the outside world treats you. But inside you, it’s about all the same. It really is.”

Superficially there’s a world of difference between winning and losing, and everyone who’s every played any game as a kid knows how much of a gulf separates these two feelings. What does the coach mean? Gaines’s locker-room speech can illuminate the above quote, especially the point where he says, “Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn’t one more thing that you could’ve done.” Read the rest of this entry »

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