John F. Russell: Teams should never apologize for winning
Winning is never saying your sorry.
Steamboat Springs — It’s a funny thing about sports.
So many times, a team will put forth its best effort but at the end of the game, still come out on the losing side of the scoreboard. It doesn’t matter if the losing team’s running back rushes for a record number of yards, it doesn’t matter if the losing team’s point guard out scored every other player on the court and it doesn’t matter if a soccer team’s goal keeper shut down the other squad’s top scorer for the majority of the game.
It doesn’t matter if the losing team fumbled the ball in the closing seconds, or the volleyball team’s top hitter spiked the ball out of bounds in a tight match, and It doesn’t matter if the team with the best record somehow falls to a team at the bottom of the standings.
At the end of the game, the only thing that matters is the final score.
There should never be an argument about what a team’s record “should” be, because all you have to do to determine it is count the number of wins and losses. For better or worse, we compare those numbers to determine which teams will advance to the playoffs at the end of the year and which teams belong at the top of the standings.
I agree that there may be times when it seems wrong, and I would argue that the final score should never be used to gauge how good or bad a team is at the end of the game. Those things should be determined by the performances of players on the field or the court.
But over the years, I’ve covered plenty of really good teams that lost a big game and dropped out of the playoffs despite the fact that everyone watching felt they should advance.
We live in the real world, and at the end of the day, the team that wins the most games, or simply wins in the playoffs, will be crowned the champions. But as I said, sometimes the journey is more important that the outcome, and there have been plenty of teams that deserved a championships but came out on the wrong side of the final score.
Last week, I listened as a bunch of television analysts tore the Denver Broncos apart for the team’s performance this year. The conversation led to a discussion in which the guys on the panel asked what they thought the Bronco’s record should be compared to what it is.
For me, this debate is silly and goes against everything sports stands for. There is no rule that the best team, or even the best effort, should be crowned the winner at the end of the game. The rule is, the team that posts the best score wins. It’s fair, and it’s also pretty simple.
After watching the Broncos’ offense struggle for most of this season, I’m not sure I completely agree, but the fact is, Denver’s record is what it should be, and that’s 6-0. That doesn’t mean the lack of offense and the fact they have escaped defeat on several occasions this season will not catch up with them. But a win is a win, and at the end of the day, a team has to take ownership of its record — win or lose.
In most cases, I would argue that the better teams rise to the top. The better teams have ways of overcoming questionable calls, avoiding mistakes when the game is on the line and coming up with the big breaks when they need them most.
The great thing about sports is that the winning teams don’t have to explain why they won the game and should never have to defend a win or record.
Yes, it’s true the score alone doesn’t always define the better team, but great teams never have to apologize for winning.
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