Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Win Without Crowing; Lose Without Crying"

Al Mann, Duke University 1936
Long ago in Durham, North Carolina, there was a football program for elementary school-age boys — the Al Mann Towel Football League, which played on an open field in Forest Hills.

No hitting. No pads. Just blue or red t-shirts and shorts with a towel stuck in your belt that would get pulled by the opposition when you had the football which meant you were down at that point. Kids learned how to work together as a team and got some exercise and a lot of fresh air before going to a Duke or Carolina “real” football game later that afternoon.

Care to guess what was really being taught all those Saturday mornings?

Sportsmanship, fair play, integrity and honor. Football was way, way down the list.

Al Mann had been a championship boxer at Duke University before World War II. All of the parents of the boys who played in his league grew up in the Great Depression, the one that makes anything we have gone through look like a garden party. Later, after all that hardship growing up, those parents fought in and suffered through World War II, the bloodiest and most costly war in contemporary human history in terms of lives lost.

They knew what honor, duty and responsibility meant. They had lived it.

Al Mann opened every practice and ended every game with his trademark challenge to every young man in his program: “Win without crowing; lose without crying”.

If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. In a world of total chaos, unemployment, famine and war, the only things that carried those parents through difficulty was their word, their honor, their trustworthiness as a friend and neighbor. Winning to them really meant “survival,” but it should be done without berating the fallen opponent. Losing to them meant, “this time, perhaps, but save the tears to reflect on what you could have done better to win the next time.”

After World War II, America did not take over Germany or Japan and subject their people to imperial rule as Roman Caesars did when they defeated an enemy. America helped both nations rebuild so their people could prosper in democratic freedom from tyrannical rule.

America won without crowing… and left.

Those Great Depression/WWII parents sought to instill in their children those same qualities of working hard, self-sacrifice, loyalty and honor.

Apparently, those lessons have been forgotten by many in public and private life today.

We have a very contentious presidential election upon us. Militant progressives are threatening to riot and burn down the streets if Joe Biden is not elected president. Each side is gearing up for what could be a long, tedious, contentious legal battle that could stretch on for months unless there is a massive landslide one way or the other that no one in their right mind could contest.

Progressive liberal Democrats never gracefully accepted the results of the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton lost. They did not follow the lead of Richard Nixon in 1960 when he gracefully conceded to JFK, even though he knew at the time, which was proven and admitted to later, that Mayor Daley had stolen the election for JFK in Chicago, and JFK’s VP running mate, Lyndon Johnson, had stolen the election for JFK in Texas.

They did not follow the lead of then-VP Al Gore in 2000 when he gracefully conceded to George W. Bush 43 after an extended recount in Florida and subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court. Both Nixon and Gore could have formed a “resistance” movement and fought the new administrations tooth-and-nail for four years, but both men had enough decency and respect for the history of the United States and its people not to put the nation through such turmoil.

They both “lost without crying.” At least in public. Nixon in 1960 and Gore in 2000 set the bar for how losing political candidates should conduct themselves at any level of elective politics.

To their credit, JFK and Bush 43 “won without crowing” and set about to lead this country as the Constitution instructed chief executives to do.

Al Mann does not have a Wikipedia page dedicated to what he did for the young men of Durham long ago. Perhaps he should. Before next Tuesday’s election.

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