But no one wins all the time; everyone's a loser at some point. Losing over and over is how you learn to win. and in that lies the trill of competition. Feasably, anyone can win at the beginning of a competition. Every underdog has a shot. Anything can happen in the final minutes (even though a close family member says the first 46 minutes of a basketball game are unnecessary).
We like drama. We're entertain ourselves with it; we distract ourselves with it. Competition is unscripted, livable drama. And whether we're talking professional sports or a battle of the bands or a writing contest or a game of checkers on the porch, we're invested in each moment of it, and the story those moments stitch together when you mix individual/team ability with a rigid set of rules and the chaos of possibility.
Which is why, if you care about winning, you gotta put the time in, the work in, and you can't accept losing. When Lombardi says that "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing," he's equating the whole point of the enterprise with the goal of the enterprise, otherwise we wouldn't put ourselves through the grueling struggle of it. We must exercise and sweat and practice and sweat and self-analyze and sweat and sweat until it hurts. We need to invest the suffering to our bodies and egos to build us into the kind of machine that can win, and then when we do win, we can take that time to indulge our fragile human side by relaxing into the pride of a job well done, ideally with some graciousness to those we defeated.
But to do that, you do have to accept losing, and sometimes a lot of it, albeit in a much different way. I know I'm miserable if my contentment with any enterprise is 100% aligned with the outcome instead of the act itself. Even the gloss of winning always wears off.
There's a self-loathing in losing, a measure of lacking self-worth that is illogical because your competitive performance in chess or hockey is only a measure of how good you are at that one thing--it doesn't spill over into the rest of your life. A standardized test only really measures how well you can do on that standardized test. Because, as per the formula of abilities + rules + possibility, there's only so much you can control yourself. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book Outliers: we equate success with ability and neglect many of the other uncalculable properties that determine what makes someone successful. However much you want to be the best at that one thing and how much you make it your life stirs into a whole cauldron of luck to become how successful you are at it, and even then, a great game you lose is often far more satisfying than a bad game you win.
But still, obviously, no one wants to lose. We want to matter; we want to impact our environment. "I don't want to be a product of my environment," Jack Nicholson states in The Departed (while playing a gangster who killed to win at life), "I want my environment to be a product of me." When you lose, you've become the product. When you win, you stamp your agency on the world around you. You take the deepest part of yourself and use it to manipulate the physical world to your ends. You impress your will upon reality. Most often without hurting people.
But no one can do it all the time. On the field/court/ice/course/track/mat /etc., OR in life. We each make waves in our realities, but we're all also at floating in an ocean of butterfly effects.
And would you even want to win all the time? A thousand winning percentage is like a drug, like those women's college teams who dominate for two or three straight seasons. It's unnatural. So just like all binaries, winning and losing yin-and-yang, they create each other. Don't get my wrong, I'm trying to win every single time. I'll just be happy winning one out of two. Or happy nonetheless.