Personal Sports

Winning Is All That Matters!

Wins and Losses

Are you a sports fan? Do you enjoy participating in competition, or just watching other compete? There is often tension, drama, emotional highs and lows, and plenty of excitement. And in the end, there is a winner, and a loser. (Unless a draw is an option for the final outcome in the particular sport of choice.)

The outcome is usually the way we judge a game. Did you win? You were the best team out there! Did you lose? Tough break. They were better. If it’s a league, where you’re tracking your wins and losses, chalk one up in the loser column for you and your team.

I’ve always thought this was such a strange way to judge effort, ability, and even the result of a particular contest. First, there are so many things that go into a win or a loss, and often a couple bounces or calls that were a hair’s breadth from going the opposite way may have determined that final outcome. So did the better team win? Or, were they just lucky?

Honestly, it’s often a toss up—and can even be well argued that the better team ended with fewer points.

And yet, we even champion the phrase, “Winning is all that matters!”

Bottom line is, that’s true. The way we have set things up is based on wins and losses. The ultimate champion in any sports league—the best team—is the one who outlasts all the others by winning. It doesn’t matter if it’s ugly, if the other team was better, or if they win by dominating their opponent—just win.

You don’t even have to win all of your games! The NY Giants won the Super Bowl a few years ago, after “sneaking” into the playoffs. In what might have been considered a sub-par season (9-7 overall, they were 7-7 after week 15!) they beat the New England Patriots (whom many considered a far superior team, for many reasons) … and THEY are the Champions.

Just because they won the right games, at the right times.

It’s funny to me, actually; how much emphasis we place on the final outcome. I don’t have an alternative, though. What else could you base it on? Everything else is simply subjective, based on opinion more than a measurable actuality. But still, there’s so much “luck” involved, and we base so much value, or “worth” on these ‘W’s and ‘L’s.

I think I may be more understanding of this as a fan of the Buffalo Bills. Did you know that this NFL franchise has not collected enough wins in any of the past thirteen seasons to advance to the post season playoffs? Thirteen! They have a record of 82-126 over that span of years. A win percentage of thirty-nine percent. That’s really incredible. I’ve watched most of those individual contests, and while it’s not really fair to say they “should” have won any of those games that they lost, there certainly were dozens that could have been flipped to wins by just one or two timely plays going the other way (and those plays being just a bad bounce, or a fraction of an inch from doing just that!)

And so, our team and its fans continue to be the butt of many a football joke. Just because of a few plays.

Overall, this usually is a good measurement. Those teams were not very good. But they weren’t maybe as bad as the W/L record would suggest. Nor are the winners necessarily as “good” as their record suggested. And yet, they are lauded as the best.

This is not a sour grapes post. 🙂 Yesterday my Bills won on a last second touchdown, in a hard-fought, back-and-forth game where either team could have won—and maybe the Carolina Panthers “deserved” the win even more. (Or at least, as much as the Bills.)

But the Bills won. They are 1-1. They feel better about themselves. Just because they finished with one more point. (Thanks to a penalty, and a few other beneficial moments.)

In the previous week, the Bills may have actually been the “better” team, but they lost. There were dropped passes, bad calls, penalties (which were correctly called) and in the end, the Bills lost on a last minute field goal.

I still say, wins and losses are a funny way to gauge the overall worth or ability of a team.

I guess that’s just a strange part of “sport”. In the end, winning is probably not all that matters. At least, not to me. Playing hard, good sportsmanship (whether winning or losing), competition, dealing with adversity, and just the enjoyment of physical activity and exertion… leaving everything on the field, as they say—all of these are great parts of sport, win or lose.

A famous quote, attributed to Thomas Edison, reminds us that winning and losing may not be the best measurement of any particular outcome:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that will not work.[1. Note: This quote is interesting. I found several versions of it, usually differing on the number of failures (700, 1,000, and 10,000 being most common). But also the subject of the failure differed at times (battery storage vs. the carbon filament for light bulbs) and also there was some stated doubt regarding the attribution to Edison at all! Interesting.]

So I contend that whether your final result is a win or a loss, the ‘W’ or ‘L’ does not determine the worth of you, or your team, or even your effort on that occasion. People say there are “moral victories” (meaning you can take something good from a loss) and then others strongly object, saying there are NO moral victories. Wins are all that matters. That’s just silly … it’s a GAME! So many things go into it, and the final result can go either way. That’s what makes it fun!

Enjoy the competition. Play hard, win or lose. And even enjoy watching and cheering for your team, win or lose.

We Bills fans certainly know how to do the latter! 🙂

Personal Sports

Lessons in Futility (from the Buffalo Bills)

We all know the numbers. 10 years with no playoffs. 4 games with no wins. 1 starting quarterback benched after two weeks, then just dumped on the street after three weeks. And of course, the biggest number of all is, 50 years, 0 Lombardi trophies*.

There are only 8 teams out of 32 in the NFL that have a losing record. Four of those teams are 0-4, including the Buffalo Bills. But when you look at this list of teams that either haven’t won a game, or have only won one, you tell me if you see any team that has looked more hopeless than the Bills through four games:

Cleveland: 1-3
Oakland: 1-3
Dallas: 1-2
Minnesota: 1-2
Carolina: 0-4
Detroit: 0-4
San Francisco: 0-4

You can’t, can you. Only perhaps the Carolina Panthers have managed to be quite as toothless and inept as the Bills. The one game where we had a fairly decent showing, we lost to our nemesis, the New England Patriots… maybe just because we are trying for a perfect season? No wins?!

Certainly Dallas and Minnesota do not belong on this list, and I’m sure they will remedy that. As for the other 0-4 teams, Detroit has literally been in every single game right down to the end, and had at least one (the opening weekend game) practically stolen from them when the refs decided to call a play by the book rather than by their eyes. (That was a TD!) San Francisco has been almost as inept, but yesterday they lost a game they were leading most of the way on a last-second, long FG.

And, if you look at the net points for each team (meaning, points against subtracted from points for) the Bills rank dead last at -64. Ouch. (The other 0-4 teams are San Fran -51, Carolina -41, and Detroit -24.)

I think it’s fairly obvious that the Bills are “on the clock”.

(Though perhaps Carolina and San Fran might be able to wrestle that position away from them…)

So what accounts for this meteoric … drop? I mean, for the last four seasons the Bills have at least gotten 6 or 7 wins. We were loving our mediocrity here in Buffalo. But now, we are quite possibly the worst team in the NFL! What has changed?

The only real “excuse” I have for the Bills is the new defensive scheme. It’s well known that the Bills shifted to a 3-4 defense this offseason, and it’s also quite obvious that they have not quite fully “shifted” as yet. Last season the Bills’ defense was one of the top takeaway teams (especially interceptions), and the #2 overall pass defense. This season, they are the #28 defense overall (thanks to still being #12 against the pass) and they have not only 0 INTs, but only 1 takeaway. ONE. In four games!

And the only reason that they are #12 in passing yards allowed per game is that they are dead last in rush defense, allowing teams an average of 174 yards per game on the ground. When you can get 174 yards rushing, you don’t really need to pass! (And, more evidence of their defensive futility, the Bills rank second-to-last in sacks with 4 for the entire season so far. Only the Cincinnati Bengals are worse.)

My family moved to Buffalo in 1986. The same year Marv Levy was hired by the Bills. The year after they drafted Bruce Smith and Andre Reed. The year Jim Kelly decided to join the team. (He was drafted in 1983, but didn’t play for them till 1986.) Then we met some friends who were big fans of the team. None of our family were football fans (or even any sport fans) … but one day in 1988 we were offered the chance to join those friends at a live NFL football game, and that endeared us to the football club from Buffalo from that moment on.

(The game? It was a 9-6 OT win over the New York Jets by which the Bills claimed the division title as a result of their then 11-1 record! It was exciting, electrifying—very wet… rained all day—and as I said, endeared us to this team from then on.)

Then came the Super Bowls, and a few more years of good players and fun wins…

Then came the last decade. Bad GMs, bad coaches, bad players, bad decisions by management, bad teams, bad records… mad fans.

But we had never hit such a bottom as this. This year, it seems to me, we could very possibly not win a single game. 0-16. Only the second team to ever accomplish such a feat. Wow.

So the Bills press on in their quest for ultimate futility. This week, the Jacksonville Jaguars (and former starting QB, Trent Edwards**) come to town. Surprisingly, there is no favorite in this game. The Bills have been very big underdogs in all the games so far, but in this one, the game is a “pick” game. I’m guessing that will change by the time they play the game this Sunday!

For the Bills and Bills fans, we now focus our attention on the 2011 draft. With the #1 pick overall, we can hope to finally have a great player in Buffalo again? Will it be one of the highly-touted QBs? Likely. Or perhaps a hall-of-fame caliber left tackle? Perhaps. The last time the Bills had the #1 overall pick was in 1985, and that was used to select Bruce Smith. One can only hope…

Until then… we still watch. And groan. And hide our eyes at times. But cheer for the few moments of good plays. CJ Spiller is fun to watch. Sometimes Roscoe Parrish. And, we do have a good punter… 🙂

But really, the 2010 season is all about planning for 2011.

“The Buffalo Bills are on the clock.”

* These numbers are slightly unfair as the Lombardi trophy has not been awarded 50 times, and the Bills technically were champions of their league before the Super Bowl years. In 1964 and 1965 they were the AFL champions… and they were one game away from being the AFL’s first Super Bowl representative in 1966, but lost to the KC Chiefs.

** By “former”, we mean of course, only two weeks ago. That’s a very recent “former”.

Personal Sports Videos

FIFA World Cup 2010: Vuvuzelas!

If you have been watching any of the World Cup so far this month (perhaps even if you haven’t) you know that the word of the tournament so far is: Vuvuzela.

Now, I am no fan of the constant, buzzing drone that provides the soundtrack to every minute of every match… nor am I so completely anti-Vuvuzela. (First of all, it’s a pretty fun word, and probably lexically reminds me of one of my previous homes.)

If you watch the video above, and read the linked page … well, you’ll see that even though it might be slightly annoying—enough to want to ban it—it’s not all bad. It has certainly given the entire world something to talk about!

There’s even an iPhone app!

So, if it really bothers you, just turn down your sound and root on your country in silence. Or… you could just buy your own?

Personal Sports

Basketball Solitaire?

Everyone is talking basketball these days. It’s March Madness time. Most brackets have been thrown in the trash. Four teams fans are still happy for now. (Including me! Go State!)

Well, I guess I’m getting in on the action. After a couple years “off”, I found another friend (with at least a slightly flexible schedule) who can play basketball with me some mornings. We’re getting a very slow start to our new routine (we’ve only actually done it once in the past three weeks) but it is going to be a good thing once we DO get to it! 🙂

Today, however, my friend wasn’t able to make it, so after 15 minutes of shooting around I decided that since I came to get a workout, I would to do try my basketball solitaire game. It’s quite tiring, actually! Full court, one person … non-stop running.

I could definitely tell that it’s going to take a few more weeks to get back into any sort of (good) shape!

But, next time you have a gym to yourself, perhaps you can get a good workout and try to beat today’s score? (51… not too shabby after a few years on the shelf!)

Personal Sports

University at Buffalo – BOWL GAME!

UB BullsI am actually an alumnus of three different universities. All undergrad. All within four years after completing high school. That’s kinda strange, but does give me a few teams to root for.

One of those is playing in a bowl game today!

At 1:00pm on ESPN2, you can see the UB Bulls take on UConn (do they have a football team?) in the International Bowl (I think) up in Toronto, Canada. (What is it with Buffalo teams playing in Canada???)

UB actually is not only competitive this year… they’re pretty good! We’ll be rooting them on here.

Also, as a little piece of trivia… way back in the spring of 1994, the UB football team roster included this name: Greg Campbell.

It’s true! But I gave up my career in football to pursue a degree from Cincinnati Bible College and helping people learn to live with Jesus. That’s been an interesting ride! Not what I would have expected. But, I definitely wouldn’t change anything.

I just might be picturing me out there catching passes in the UB blue today… 🙂

Personal Sports

Some Teams…

There are just some teams that I never like to see win. I know, I should root for a team instead of against the other one, but … that’s just the way it is.

Tonight I am rooting for probably my second favorite team, the Cincinnati Bengals, but it’s not looking good for them. The Steelers (one of those teams I never want to see win…) are getting lots of “homer” calls, and it’s pretty annoying. Probably wouldn’t be as annoying if I didn’t like the Bengals and so strongly dislike the Steelers…

Just so it’s in writing, here are the teams I always root against (and if they are both playing, I usually just don’t even watch the game!) 🙂 Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, and Ravens. So yeah, remember those two Super Bowls that featured Giants vs Ravens and Eagles vs Patriots? Didn’t see ’em. 🙂

There are some other teams in other sports, but since it’s primarily football season, I’ll leave it at that.

On a more positive note… my Bills did pull out a last-second, one-point victory today! Nice job, Bills!

Personal Sports Videos

All Good Things…

Playoff Beard
Well, the time has come… the playoffs are over, and the Sabres are headed home for the summer. All good things eventually come to an end. Click the photo above for a little tribute video to the 2007 playoff… beard. 🙂

Personal Sports

An Eulogy

Buffalo SabresLast night I dreamt that I was a member of the Buffalo Sabres. We were at some awards presentation. I was dressed in my full uniform, as were my team mates. I know for sure Ryan Miller was there, but I forget the other guys faces. All were bummed. Most faces were sullen, gloomy… although the reason for the gathering was to celebrate the season that was.

At some point it dawned on me, the Buffalo Sabres player that I was, that we were all privileged to be there, doing what we were doing. I said as much to my fellow team mates. We were Buffalo Sabres I said to them. We had all grown up as fans of the team (which, in reality is not the case, but made a good point in the dream…) and now here we were playing in the conference finals!

My emotional speech seemed to have a little effect on the guys as they all did manage to at least nod in agreement. It was almost time for us to take the ice and have a skate around for the fans when…

I woke up.

And the reality is, I’m not a member of the team, but we have invested a lot of time watching – and cheering on – the Sabres this year. And it was not wasted. They were fantastic. Tons of goals, tons of comebacks, tons of fun. Even the playoffs. It didn’t end the way we expected it would, thanks to a fantastic performance by the Ottawa Senators.

Let me tell you, I don’t like the Sens. They tend to play at least aggresive, sometimes nasty. They certainly have our number this year, winning 9 of 13 games in the regular season and playoffs. They’re the division rival you love to hate. BUT… I am very happy for them. Not happy they beat my team, but man have they had a rough several years. Let’s hope the Sabres don’t wait as long as they do. They have been fantastically talented but, “underacheivers” for several years running now. Perhaps this is finally their year.

Let’s hope next year is ours.

So, a season comes to an end. We “mourn” for a bit, but I already can’t wait for the next season! I’m sure the NHL will schedule Buffalo vs Ottawa at least as our home opener, if not the season opener. 🙂 Already looking forward to ALL EIGHT of those games!

84 games is a looooong time to wait for another run at the Cup, but assuming we keep the core of this team together (read: SIGN CHRIS DRURY) we should have another great season next year! Already looking forward to it.

So now we get ready for Bills football! 🙂

Go Buffalo!!

Personal Sports Technology

Various Things

  • Kirsten joined us for reading the Bible today (usually it’s just Dad & the boys…) and in today’s story, Jesus was going to have dinner with one of the Pharisee’s named Simon. Well, we had just been talking about how we’d like to go to Wendy’s for dinner, so I said, “Maybe they went to Wendy’s!” The kids all thought that was cool, but the next line said, “So they went to his house for dinner.” I said, “Oh, I guess not Wendy’s. They went to his house. So, they probably had Skyline.” Kirstie replied, “Like us!!!” 🙂 (Which, though I’m 100% certain they did not have Skyline, got across the point that they were peoples just like us.) 🙂
  • Jen wants to make resurrection rolls. That’s awesome. 🙂
  • The Buffalo Bills schedule comes out today (along with the rest of the NFL). It will be announced at 4pm on the NFL Network (which we DO NOT get!!!) and around the same time on the Buffalo Bills website.
  • The Buffalo Sabres have three games to go, and are 1 point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the best overall record in the NHL. Detroit only has 2 games left, so the Sabres are definitely in the driver’s seat. And with games against Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia, they stand a very good chance of winning all of those. Tonight’s game is against Boston, whome the Sabres have a 5-0-2 record against this season! Go Sabres! We could have home ice through the whole playoffs!
  • My wife loves to give gifts. Today I opened my drawers to get my clothes for the day and found an Almond Joy (one of my favorites) on top of my shirts and some travel cups for hot drinks that I enjoy on top of my socks. A fun surprise to begin the day.
  • Mac sales of late have been going at a pretty good clip. At least interest has increased. I am getting calls/emails from folks I don’t even know 🙂 Pretty fun. I love hooking people up with Macs! And the bonus is, now I also get paid by Apple to do it! It’s not a lot, but it’s definitely a nice bonus! Lemme know if you need one… 🙂
  • We are Bills season ticket holders once again! It’s a pretty expensive endeavor for us to go to Bills games (tack on another $50 to even $100 on game day for gas, tolls, parking, food, etc.) so a friend reminded us of the wonder of StubHub. It’s a site where you can buy (and sell!) tickets of all sorts. He’s pretty sure we can cover the cost of our tickets to a game or two we want to go to, by selling the games we don’t want to (or, can’t as it were) go to. SO… we have four seats in the Family section, 225 I believe. See ya there! 🙂 (Guess we’ll find out today WHEN we’ll be going to these games!!!)
  • Jen also surprised me by getting a baby sitter and “taking me” to El Pacifico for dinner last night. It’s our new favorite place. She and I can eat for $15-20 and it’s AWESOME, authentic, Mexican food. Great stuff!