Manchester City v Wigan: If you want to be a winner, is it essential to be gracious in victory or defeat?

It may be harmful for our competitiveness as a nation if we see such a display of insouciance from those who have just been vanquished in agonising fashion

Share
Related Topics

Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.

This aphorism is from the back catalogue of Vince Lombardi, the legendary American football coach whose insights into sporting success later became the tenets of naked capitalism.

Winning isn't everything: it's the only thing. That was another Lombardi saying that was adopted by Wall Street's Masters of the Universe. I was thinking about all this when I was driving back from Wembley on Saturday. I was listening to Radio Five's football phone-in show, which was rather like having a car full of people all shouting at the same time.

Anyway, if I have this right, Robbie Savage, one-time professional footballer and Strictly Come Dancing contestant, was highly critical of the Manchester City players being so generous in defeat to their opponents from Wigan Athletic. For Robbie, losing hurt so badly that he just couldn't face offering congratulations to the victors.

By way of contrast, Gary Lineker - a winner if ever there was one - was extremely impressed by Manchester City's behaviour as the beaten team. "Great dignity in defeat by Manchester City and their players. We seldom mention such things," he tweeted. City's Belgian captain, Vincent Kompany, who was diligent in shaking the hands of his opponents after the match, also took to Twitter later to express his admiration for the way Wigan played.

In other words, he was a exceptionally good loser. But, to Robbie Savage, he was just a loser. It is a very interesting point, and one that has a resonance beyond the sporting field. If you want to be a winner - in business, in politics, in life - is it essential to be so single-minded that the concept of grace in victory or defeat becomes redundant?

We are told that footballers are role models, so maybe the example set by Kompany and company is a bad one. It may be harmful for our competitiveness as a nation if we see such a display of insouciance from those who have just been vanquished in agonising fashion. What kind of message does that send out to our impressionable youngsters? Winning or losing. It's all the same to us.

Football is more than a game, and not quite a business (very few of the customary rules of commerce apply), so it is easy to understand why there is so much disputation over standards of behaviour. It is Vincent Kompany's living, and although he has a gilded existence and will not suffer too drastically from Saturday's unexpected reverse, his professional pride will have taken a hit. And the fact that he was able to conduct himself with dignity in the aftermath is surely to his credit.

It is not just footballers whose conduct often leaves a lot to be desired. Some of our politicians and business leaders betray a gracelessness and petulance that blights public discourse. My friend Eric has a great strategy for conflict resolution, and in times of victory or defeat. Be the bigger man, he says. So, with deference to Messrs Lombardi and Savage, perhaps it's not all about the pain of losing and the exultation of winning. It's about whether you have the courage to be the bigger man.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high