Ryder Cup Disappointment
In a stunning come from behind effort, the European team beat the US team at the Ryder Cup matches this past weekend. My disappointment isn’t with the US loss – the Euros were brilliant. Well done boys!
I’m saddened by the lack of sportsmanship.
I don’t like it when Americans cheer when the Euros hit a bad shot. Really? Cheering a failure? It's like booing; it just...isn't done. I don't like it when two professionals compete for 4 hours, being close to one another the entire time, and then only briefly shake hands at the end. No true congratulatory moments from the loser. Nothing more than well done and good effort. There’s a lot of talk about what each team says among themselves, rather than the teams breaking bread together, and congratulating one another. I think if that would have been happening, it would have been reported.
There’s some history here. You golfers know about Brookline, where an early celebration by an American team (and it WAS early) was seen as not cricket. What’s been forgotten is Jack Nicklaus conceding a not trivial putt to Tony Jacklin in 1969 to allow the match to be halved (versus the Americans winning outright, even if the draw still meant the Americans kept the cup.) Nicklaus's decision was a classy move, giving a tip of the cap to friendly competition, rather than to competition between friends.
Why didn’t a single US player walk over to the Euro crowd at the end, and look each of them in the eye, and shake hands, and say, “well played, gentlemen”? Why do I get the sense that some would see that as not being a "team player"?
When did competition overcome being a gentleman, or a lady? Was it the money? I suspect so. I wouldn’t say sports stars have to be role models. They want to be jerks, fine. But there’s a market for Phil Mickelson (see below).
It’s become about the “W”. But it ought to be about more.
We can do better. When you're at work, remember that you can compete in the marketplace. Compete hard. Work your tail off. And respect your competitors. Remember you're not competing against them but FOR the customer.
And teach your kids to congratulate the other team, genuinely. Bench them if they don't. It's okay to teach winning. But don't forget to teach living.
Except for Phil Mickelson
The exception this weekend was Phil Mickelson. As he was losing his match to a series of WOW putts by Euro Justin Rose, he smiled and clapped, and gave his fellow competitor a thumbs up each time. Well done, sir. I will tell my kids: be like Phil.
This is what I ask for: compete like the devil, but win or lose like the angels. Yes, I’ve seen Tiger win mind games with his competitors. And sure, winning is important.
But if winning is all it’s about…well, that’s small beer. And sometimes, sadly, it’s American small beer, which just isn’t as good.