Falling in the finals

Falling in the finals

Eric Wong

To come so close and to walk away with nothing


At the end of the day, not everyone can walk away a winner.  Every sports league only has one championship team.  Unfortunately, the varsity girls tennis team didn’t walk away from their season as CCS champions, settling for the title of “runner-up”.  

Take a look at every other scenario in life.  In the animal kingdom, the rule is eat or be eaten.  When looking back at history, the conquerors — not the conquered — write history.  For athletics to acknowledge the existence of second place is an offer much more generous than what much of the world tends to do.  

Though taking the backseat to the oft-publicized bestial looks of joy and tears of emotion that accompany winning, the expressions of defeat in championship events are equally compelling and moving.  Some break down, overwhelmed by the disappointment of having come so far and losing in the end.  Others fake a smile, accepting the disappointing way in which the games played out.  Having a huge, unsportsmanlike tantrum is also a popular option, especially for even the most elite of tennis players, namely Serena Williams.  Just take a look at her US Open exit, where she lost her semi-final match on a penalty by screaming at a referee for calling a foot fault. 

As the defeated, we are haunted by the fear that this was our only chance for success, that there will never be a second chance.  If we never find ourselves in the finals of a championship again, it may feel as we have unfinished business that we never had a chance to resolve.  

As a result, fear becomes a powerful motivator.  It drives us to succeed because the consequences of losing may be too devastating to live with.  The bittersweet agony of having defeated every other team and falling in the last round is a curse that we desperately seek to avoid so the only alternative is to win.  

Step back from it all and take a look at the bigger picture.  So many people don’t even take the initiative to dedicate themselves to something and spend their days idling away.  For even taking up that racket or lacing up that pair of cleats and working your hardest at practice, you have already taken the first steps to show dedication and commitment.   Reaching that last round is even more commendable, showing that you and your team have the skill to beat most other teams.  

Not everyone has walked away a winner, but if you take a second look, both teams that leave the championship game are filled with amazing, dedicated athletes that taken the necessary steps to get ahead in life. Some of them even come back to win bigger tournaments.  For the varsity girls tennis team, they bounced back after a disappointing end to CCS by defeating Saratoga on a bigger stage to become the CIF NorCal Championships.