Victory is all about defining expectations and achievement.
The typical draw schedule for a recreational bonspiel looks something like an inverse of your standard March Madness bracket. Instead of many teams working in to a final championship, you have all the teams in the center with the winners of the first round advancing to one side in the first event and the losers advancing to the second event.
A standard double-elimination format will have four events populated by teams that are bumped from the main brackets at various points along the way to be in those brackets. What this tends to do is quickly separate teams into pools of roughly similar skill level, making a week-end long tournament more challenging and fun for both the winners and the losers.
Competitive sports is about separating the victors from the also-rans. Not everyone will take first place in a marathon or hit the game-winning home run or score 1,000 points during their high school basketball careers. Those going into sports of any kind with the sole goal of being the best will more often than not go home disappointed and discouraged.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with winning or with working hard to master skills and hone your ability. Striving to be the best is admirable. If you don’t aim high, you are always destined to shoot yourself in the foot.
However, as someone who was never the fastest, the strongest or most aggressive on any team or squad, I have sought that buzz of victory in other ways. Being the best, is being the best you can be on that day and at that moment and recognizing that no matter how good your best may be, there is someone who will be better.
Several years ago I ran a marathon. In preparation for it, I trained for months and logged many, many miles. I came in last in the race, but I count it as one of my greatest victories and among the top of my lifetime personal achievements. I was a winner that day because I finished the journey I had started months before.
I love the sport of curling. I love the feel of a rock’s handle in the palm of my hand, the roar of a rock sliding down the pebbled ice, the camaraderie of my teammates and the challenge of the opposing team trying their best to do their best.
My regular league team is legendary for not having that great of a record. Although in fairness we have improved tremendously in recent years, there was a long stretch where getting any win was a rare occurrence. Personally, I blame our skip. He can be a bit full of himself at times, spewing off philosophy about how the true losers are the ones who don’t even try, and then misses his shots. My son who plays lead and the other guys who play second and third will generally agree with the assessment.
Yet, not only do we show up to play every season, but we make a point to enter as many tournaments as our schedules allow. We know the odds of winning are slim, but every rock and every end is another chance to prove the odds wrong, and besides it is a heck of a lot more fun than the never-ending “honey do” list waiting for us at home.
Whatever your passion, from bowling to baseball or dart ball to beanbags, take the chance and participate in leagues and tournaments not with the goal of coming home the grand champion, but with the idea of having a good time regardless of where you end up in the brackets.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.