top of page
  • Writer's picturePatrick Jones

I am a Sore Winner

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

My wife often tells me that I’m a sore winner.

I’m OK with that.

A few years ago the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Seattle Seahawks in a way that I’d wish on only my worst enemies. If you didn’t see it, kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Vikings.

Walsh’s miss was the shortest miss of the 2015 season.

It was shorter than a PAT kick.

It was the shortest kick attempted in the entire game.

And he missed. The kick was so far left that some wondered if he was imitating the way I hit the golf ball off the first tee.

It wasn’t even close.

And I, being a sore winner, ate it up. Last night I stayed up late reading articles. When those got boring, I found reaction videos of Viking fans watching the missed kick.

When those videos got old I started reading comment-threads on Vikings blogs—the comments of fans as they watched to the missed kick.

I was thrilled to win. I was obsessed with the losing. 

You see, losing is in my blood. I root for teams from Seattle. Our 116-win Mariners lost in the second round of the MLB playoffs. The Seahawks have lost two Superbowls—one by a last minute interception and one by a referee who has admitted that his errors cost the ‘hawks the game.

Our Supersonics took losing to another level. They left Seattle completely.

Losing is in my blood. So when one of my teams wins a game that they should have lost (and yes, we should have lost) I get a twisted satisfaction out of seeing other people feel my pain.

But something happened when I read the message board. The Vikings fans, between f-bombs and NSFW metaphors, started using phrases that I have used. As soon as they saw the missed kick, fans started saying things like this:

This is the most Vikings thing to ever happen.

We lose… because Vikings.

The world just ended in a massive ball of fire.

And my favorite: GOD HATES MINNESOTA

These phrases? I’ve used them dozens, hundreds of times (well, maybe not the ball of fire one) referring to Seattle. I uttered God hates Seattle countless times during Husky basketball games when I was in college.

In Seattle we have a culture of losing.

It’s like GEICO. Losing: it’s what we do. 

I joke, I tell stories and I exaggerate, but it’s true: Joey Cora crying after losing the 1995 AL Championship is a defining image in my life. I was there.

But here I was, reading comments from Vikings fans, only to see that they have the same expectation of losing that I do! They expect heartbreak and tragedy as much as me!

These fans believe that their city has a monopoly on heartbreaking losses. That no other city loses like they do. But that’s my claim. I’ve been saying that for years!

I hate to admit it, but I may not be alone in this whole losing thing. As much as I equate Seattle with losing, here were hundreds of people used to losing as much as I am.

That’s when I realized it: losing is universal. It’s what holds sports together.

A few weeks ago my wife and I had lunch with a couple from Chicago. Instantly we talked about the Cubs and Bartman. Then I excitedly explained the Curse of the Billy Goat.

I should probably talk to her about the Curse of the Bambino, as well. Who cares if the Red Sox are now a money-spending World Series-winning machine? The curse will always be a part of their history.

Because losing defines a fan base. It’s universal.

Sports are something that we can have in common with someone who has nothing in common with us. We watch games, we give our hearts to athletes, because sports give us belonging. They bring us together.

In Indonesia two years ago I met someone and instantly was able to share a common bond—we both hated Johnny Football!

My college friends and I stay in touch for one reason—sports.

When my dad calls me? Sports.

Sports bring us together.

And losing unites us.

My Seattle Seahawks are a great team. How do I know? Great teams win games that they have no business winning.

But last season we found a new way to break our own hearts. At the 1-yard-line. In the Superbowl. I’ve never felt so deflated in my life (pun intended).

Boston has Buckner. Cincinnati has Dalton. Many teams have had David Price. New York has, well, they have someone. 

The New England Patriots, one of the most successful teams of the past decade (cheating, deflating and cheating aside), lost the Superbowl in 2008 to the New York Giants. Let me put this loss in perspective:

The Giants team is statistically the worst Superbowl-winning team in history.

The Patriots entered the game 19-0.


The greatest team of the last 15 years also experienced one of the most improbable losses ever.

These stories, these chokes, these goats—they define us. They become a narrative that brings fans together. They are stories to overcome and blame. They’re what we curse in our darkest moments.

They are stories that grow larger than the men who played the game.

And we all have these stories. Every team, every city has a story of heartbreaking loss.

But here’s what I learned from Vikings fans:

Our team’s own heartbreaking stories cause us to miss the heartbreak of every other team.

Everyone loses, and we are too blind to see it.

Not every team wins championships. Not every team will become a dynasty.

But every team loses.

Every team has that one game.

Every team has the season that was supposed to be the one.

Losing is the only thing that every sports fan has in common!

Not everyone wins. But everyone loses.

If you’re a sports fan, you and I have one thing in common—losing.

It’s the narrative that ties all sports together. No matter what game, level or continent your game is played on, you’ve lost one as the clock (or inning) expired. You’ve dropped one to your rival. You choked in the big game.

And we can tell these stories, laugh and find brotherhood in our loss.

I feel bad for the Vikings. They played a better game and were better prepared than the Seahawks. It was a horrible loss…

…but I’m still glad that they lost. And I find a lot of happiness, satisfaction and pleasure in that loss. I feel good that other people are throwing objects against the wall instead of me. I feel good that I get to watch at least one more game. I feel good that I didn’t cry yesterday.

Does that make me a sore winner? Sure.

But I’m OK with that

5 views0 comments
bottom of page