Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Democracy, Sportsmanship, and a Civil Society

Something that surely isn't original with me but that I've been developing over the last few weeks is a thesis regarding the relationship between a stable democratically run society and good sportsmanship.

A prerequisite of a stable democratic society is being a good loser.

If your definition of "democracy" boils down to "I get what I personally want or else the entire process is wrong and corrupt," then you have reduced yourself to the spoiled child who throws a tantrum and overturns the table when s/he loses at a board game.

Could it be that our society's over-emphasis at "win at any cost" and "second place is the first loser," and a complete de-emphasis on learning how to be graceful in defeat is undermining the entire democratic process? After all, if you've been conditioned to think that Winning Is The Only Thing and that losing gracefully is for suckers and wimps, how can you possibly live with yourself when your "side" loses a political election, even if the process was demonstratively fair? In such a situation, you almost naturally are doing to insist that the process itself is wrong, because you've built up a self-image that requires you to win.

I'm also worried that we've overly emphasized not hurting people's feelings when they are young by pretending that they can never lose. When they reach the real world where not every corner is padded for them, they can't handle anything other than "I showed up, so I need to win." I admit that possibly I'm just being old and crotchety about Those Darn Kids.

As I've said elsewhere, I'm disappointed that Popular Ratification, into which I invested a lot of myself, lost at the ratification stage. But I can see that the process was fair, and I neither consider myself a moral failure because my cause lost nor do I consider the entire WSFS legislative process invalid because I got outvoted. I get the feeling, however, that a whole lot of people out there can't live with the concept of losing.

Could we possibly get a more civil society if we invested more in teaching children to lose gracefully, but also not insulating them from the concept of losing? In other words, winning is good, but losing isn't necessarily bad. And yes, "It's How You Play the Game" should be a core moral concept in my opinion.
Tags: business meeting, politics, worldcon, wsfs
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