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There was an interesting blog posted earlier on "Winning is a Limitation" and one thing I thought about was what do we mean by winning, or a win? I've set out some ideas here, but would be interested in other's comments...
On the one hand, this may seem like an obvious question. We scored 3 goals, they scored 1 therefore we won. And in some senses this is true. That is clearly a win in terms of the team scored more than opposition. But does that automatically translate to a win in a broader sense?
Picture a scenario where there is a youth soccer team. One of the players is miles better than everyone else and fully capable of taking everyone on and scoring by himself. He does so regularly and the team consistently outscores their opponents as a result. However, he very rarely passes and so other players may not even touch the ball regularly during the game. If they do it is just to pass to him. By the end of the season the team has never "lost" a game, but the other children have not developed as much as you would have expected.
Is this a win in the broader sense? What if that player leaves?
In a flip of that, same situation with the same players, only this time the emphasis is on teamwork and playing together. It is slow to develop, and perfect, and the team is outscored in many of their initial games. However, by the end of the season the development of the whole team is noticeable. They start to outscore opponents in their last few games and their passing is now much more clinical and efficient. They end the season having lost more games than they won, but are a much better team than when the started
Would we class this as a win in the broader sense?
For me, the concept of winning/a win is a continuum that is not solely relegated to the outcome of the game as reflected on the scoreboard. For me, I will look at things like - are we better now as a team than we were last game? Have we developed our skills and are able to execute more than previously? Can the players react successfully to new situations? Has their sense of game IQ increased?
As long as we can keep going forward on these things then, for me, the results will start to take care of themselves.
It is a world where results matter. Where everything seems to hang on whether or not the team/player scored more points than the opposition/opponent. I personally think we need to step back from this. Get a sense of perspective. Remember, there is more to winning on the scoreboard.
I can see the point about one star player dominating and maybe inhibiting others. This can happen even at high levels - some years ago the footballer Thierry Henry was performing wonders for Arsenal and everyone wondered how on earth they would manage if he were injured and stopped scoring almost all their goals. The answer was that once he was not there the other players starting solving the problem by scoring themselves rather than looking for him as a first option.
However, on the general argument you make I would say that this reflection about the semantics of winning isn't the same as the original post, which dealt with an excessive concern with winning rather than perfecting technique. As a player, and in the sort of situation you mention, I would be quite happy to keep on winning. That wouldn't stop me from feeling empty after a big and easy win. For example, I recently found myself in a team which had a ridiculously large (whitewash) score in a bowls match, and I was happy to say to friends that I have enjoyed various defeats more than that. To answer your question, yes, I can recognise an empty and unrewarding win, and on that occasion I wished I had had something else to do that day. But in a league situation, a win is a win is a win, and I don't think you can downgrade that or feel bad about it. The same is true when a team finds itself coasting in a league where other teams aren't as good - but you just need to be realistic about it.
Basically, I don't think you can be splitting hairs about what the word "win" means. It means exactly what you say - one person or team outscoring another. To be able to recognise that you weren't tested is just a sensible reflection, but I don't think it requires a lot of analysis of any "broader sense".
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