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August 11, 2008

The Key to Losing

Every November I become nervous. I sweat more, my stomach cramps, I get hot flashes, my chest hair starts to curl. You might guess that I'm a victim of menopause, but the truth is that I suffer BYU vs. Utah anxiety. Nothing worries me more than the thought of Utah beating BYU in football. Last November was the same. I felt nervous. But with four days remaining until the game, I heard this quote from U of U running back, Darrel Mack. He was asked to compare himself to BYU's running back, Harvey Unga.

"You can't compare us," he said. "I'll have more moves than he'll ever have."

Those 12 words healed me of all infirmity. My anxiety evaporated. I had full confidence that BYU would prevail. The reason I changed is simple. The longer I live the better I learn that the gods of sport don't reward those who talk trash- they punish them. So I stopped worrying. Talking trash is the key to losing, and lose Mack did. In the big game Mack ran for a measly 54 yards. His Cougar counterpart, Harvey Unga, he of "few moves" picked up 141 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving, and scored the game-winning touchdown with under one minute remaining. The night of the victory I gave thanks in prayer for Darrell Mack and his fate-selaing trashtalk.

It occured last May. I felt nervous again. The Utah Jazz led the Houston Rockets in their playoff series three games to two, but Houston had just finished clobbering the Jazz in game five. They had all the momentum and everyone knew it. Then Houston star Tracy McGrady's decided to slam Jazz point guard Deron Williams by making fun of his name.

"What is it?” McGrady asked (referring to the pronunciation of his name). "Dare-in, De-roon?"

Oh, what a mistake. After I heard that I bet my two arms and all that remains of my hair that the Jazz would win the next game thanks to a marvelous Deron Williams performance. It happened. Both teams were close until Williams tied a Jazz-franchise record by hitting four 3-pointers in a single quarter. With that the game was over, the series was over, Houston was over. Williams finished leading all Jazz players with 25 points and 9 assists, plus the tied-record. Again I saw the truth. No one reacts better to being mocked than professional athletes. Insult an athlete and they will obliterate you.

Now you understand why I was so curious to see what would happen to the favored French quad of swimmers who claimed they would "smash" the U.S team in the 400 free relay. The Americans followed fate perfectly. Jason Lezak trailed for the majority of the final lap (see photo), but he led when it mattered. He completed the comeback with a fingertip finish, and just as sporting law demands those who talked the trash failed to win.

It's a logical principle. If you want to lose you must
your opponent.

The sporting gods will then endow your rival with such power that they could grind you into fertilizer if desired.

One other item to note. Talking trash isn't the only way to guarantee yourself a loss. I can think of at least two other keys to losing. To ensure failure just:

1) Play for the U of U, or
2) Play for the French

1 comment:

  1. Perfection, Spencer. Perfection. Thank you for making my day a delightful one with such a fantastic read.