To win by losing | sports
It is one of the great escape routes from a lost match, the one that has learning associated with defeat as confirming that winning creates softness, relaxation and, instead, defeat makes us review the model, the small details, ask new questions. and look for new solutions. It’s one of those ideas that allows you to get up, shower, and build a positive message in a time of debacle. When in the dense, thick and sad silence of the Athens Olympic dressing room, after which I still did not know that it would be my last game with the Barça shirt after being swept by AC Milan in the Champions League final, I got up to tell them to my teammates that now we already knew who had to be beaten to raise the cup of the big ears again. And that that should be from that moment our goal and our energy, he was just trying to turn defeat into energy, into learning, into encouragement. One day later I was out of Barça, but that link remained, for me, until Barça’s elimination in Paris in the Champions League 94-95. Emotions that maintain affections.
There are those who consider that defeat is never an option, that losing should be outlawed from the language of the athlete, of the footballer. One of those concepts that just formulating them already leaves us a little further from victory. One of those negative thoughts that differentiates the great ones from those that are not so much. I still remember Luis Aragonés’ anger when he saw the reception that the Valencia fans gave us upon our arrival at Manises Airport after drawing in Vigo and rushing our chances of being champions until the last game, at the end of a season in which the Atlético did a double and in which we were not called to be first or second. Not even third, but we fought to the end. It seemed to Luis that second place was not being celebrated, that this weakened, that how he was going to motivate the team for the following season if our fans were satisfied with being second. Surely it has already come to mind that Luis, already a coach in the dressing room of the Viennese Prater stadium saying to the players of Spain: “Guys, the finals are not to be played, they are to win.” And he added: “Nobody remembers the second.”
Some of that contradiction, that double look is behind the evaluation of Barça as it passed through the Spanish Super Cup. Something positive when feeling the growth of the team, the attitude and quality of all those young people who have come to stay in the Culé dressing room, a certain aroma of not so distant and happier times, certain positive outbreaks to cling to to recover the encouragement and confidence.
But also some acceptance that the rival was superior, that the effective culé is far from its rival in the capital, that this season will be more than a transition of construction and that this always takes time, knowing that there is no one that it can prohibit losing and that this variable is always, and will be, in competition and sport.
Perhaps, the art is in achieving the balance between not falling into discouragement but not in the excuse. And keep persisting. As one coach I had said: “When in doubt, courage.”
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