A competition has to have winners and losers. Participation trophies say “I showed up,” not “I worked as hard as I could.” But sometimes, there is a lot to gain by a loss.
At the Philipsburg-Osceola Memorial Stadium on Friday, the Mounties will face off with Central in the annual homecoming game. The team has had its ups and downs in recent years, but there is no doubt that every one of the boys in blue is looking for a win.
That is because of their coaching. After last year’s winless season, football players selflessly and nobly stood up at a school board meeting, refusing to allow their coach to shoulder the blame for the win-loss column. The group took responsibility and said they would have to work harder.
This season ... well, it’s probably not going to be the next “Remember the Titans” or “Rudy.” The team is struggling. But that’s also the point.
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They are struggling because they haven’t given up. It isn’t that there aren’t good players. It isn’t that there aren’t good coaches. It isn’t that they don’t want to win. They do. They really, really do.
But even at the professional level, sometimes how good you are doesn’t guarantee the win. Ask Sidney Crosby and Ben Roethlisberger. Sometimes playing hard and wanting it just isn’t enough. The Nittany Lions have had those games.
And yet the lesson in the loss is that if you give up, you never have the shot at all. That’s one the Pittsburgh Pirates can tell you. Two decades of losing that you can set your watch by didn’t make the team forfeit just because they lost last time. And the time before. And the time before that. And a lot more times before that. The thing is, no matter how good the other guy is, there is always a chance, every play of every game, that you can come out ahead. All you have to do is try.
The Mounties already bettered last year’s record with one game in their favor this year. They will look for their second in front of a homecoming crowd. There’s still time for them to pull an epic, underdog story for this season. Showing up is half the battle. You can’t win if you don’t play.