Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat

Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat

Those of us that grew up during the 60’s and 70’s watched the ABC Wide World of Sports most every weekend.  The music and the narrative began with the announcer saying The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.  Funny how clearly I remember the Agony of Defeat.  I ski jumper crashing badly, looking as if he were killed.  Less so do I have clear images of the Thrill of Victory.  I remember it now, after cheating and watching Franz Klammer ski the downhill in the Olympics and Pele being carried off on his team mate’s shoulders.  Those two scenes were faded compared to the memory of the ski jumper crashing.  Was it more dramatic, I’m not sure?  Does it say something about the television image or more about me?  I’m pretty sure it says something more about me.  Likewise I would guess if I polled others that remember ABC’s weekend show that they too would remember the crash.  So why is it?

Wouldn’t it be more natural to remember success?  Shouldn’t we focus on success?  The answer is I suggest of course.  I think however it says something about us.  We tend to focus on the challenge of something negative.  I think we tune in and remember bad things.  Just as many go to car races to see car crashes, we are drawn to those instances in sport where we see the epic fail.  Which do you remember best? What might it mean?

Perhaps we tell ourselves that this is not us.  We say it is someone else and we will not follow that path.  Yet, I think that much of our focus is on failure.  This is of course the very antithesis of what we know should be our focus.  Perhaps if we believe in the good things, the thrilling victories, it is hard for us to imagine.  We can imagine failure of epic proportions and say that is not me, but seeing oneself on the victory stands, that may be another mater all together.  I do think this is badly turned around and while we may have picked this bad habit up via TV or from our education, it is in fact something that gets in our way.

It is different when we are very young.  Kids see themselves winning the World Series and World Cup.  They don’t imagine failure of any sorts, but somewhere along the way we move sideways.  It seems to me regardless of why it is something we need to get away from and refocused on success.  We should see ourselves crossing the finish line first.  Forget about Fear of Failure; operate as if we are always going to be a success.

I am amazed sometimes as a sports psychologist as I ask an athlete to imagine stepping up to the victory platform how much the struggle with the image.  If I tell them if they are not focused they will imagine themselves falling down, that is an easy image for them to create.  But victory comes harder unless you are 10 years old.  This struggle needs to be overcome.  I think exercises focused on the Thrill of Victory move us in the right direction.

As for the Agony of Defeat, let those images fade as they tend to infiltrate our dreams and little good comes from seeing yourself as a failure.  If you choose to revel in the Agony of Defeat, that’s fine too.   See yourself failing in your sport or business.  Create an image of watching others get the prize.  Try it sometimes, and then call me.  After all, every sport psychology consultant can use a new client.   And in my sport psychology programs we do learn about the difference.


This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar  Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author

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