Calling all losers! (Yes, I’m talking to you) | Roundabout

That’s right, I called you a loser. You are a loser, right? I know I am. I never win at footraces or those contests where you guess how many of something are in a jar. I usually lose at board games, too. Just last week, I lost at Monopoly, and it wasn’t the first time.

I’m so used to losing, I didn’t even cry.

When “The Biggest Loser” first aired years ago, the title gave me a jolt. How mean, to call someone a loser! On knee-jerk first impression, I worried that the show would shame its contestants, taunt them with the label “Loser.” When it dawned on me that being a loser could be a good thing, it was novel, a nice twist. It just meant that you lost something you didn’t want in the first place. In that show, the biggest loser is the biggest winner.

In life, when you lose, it just means you didn’t win. Every contest has its winner and at least one loser. That’s how it goes, right? We’ve known that since the first time we played “Candyland,” or had to take a downward slide on “Chutes and Ladders.” Sometimes we win, other times, not so much.

So why is it that when I attend my kids’ recreational soccer games and they’re having a losing season, everyone gets so upset? Kids and adults. We’ve definitely had a few seasons like that. When it’s happened, there’s a pattern that leaves everyone feeling grumpy. It starts with … drum roll, please … The Parents.

Parents standing on the sidelines, it’s all fine and good to cheer for your little athletes. But when their losses start bothering you, you really need to get over yourselves. One, this is about rearing children, not about living through them. And two, I’m sorry to take away your lollipop, but your child is not going to be a professional athlete. If he was, he wouldn’t still be playing rec soccer at 13.

When parents are sore losers, it rubs off onto the coach — often in the form of actual complaints to a coach who is volunteering — and onto the kids. That’s the way it goes. Then you have a team with grumpy kids, grumpy adults, and it’s not good.

I found this quote: “It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” — Ellen DeGeneres

What do successes mean if we never fail? Nothing. Experiencing loss makes us appreciate wins more. It can make us work harder the next time. It makes us compassionate toward those we’re competing against even as we work hard to be the winner. Learning to gracefully accept failure and keep on trying is a life skill, part of being emotionally intelligent.

This year, my son’s soccer team seems to be on another losing trajectory. Oh, well. So far, his new coach appears to be handling it well, and so do the parents. That bodes well for the kids continuing to work hard with a good attitude. In fact, the only parents I’ve been disappointed in have been a couple of sore winners on some of the opposing teams.

And guess what? You might not get a trophy at the end of the season, but even losers can enjoy an ice cream treat after a brutal loss at soccer, or Monopoly.

— Check out more by Denise Roundy at Contact her at