**by D. Morley
“All the world loves a winner.” But what about the poor loser?
What the world feels for losers is basically contempt. Yet, they abound on any course. They are recognizable by a penchant for losing that transcends their natural abilities. Some of the finest natural disc golfers I know are losers. It would seem there’s something about success that threatens them. They derive a definite comfort from finishing second, if not last.
The loser can look like a champion for twelve holes. Then something happens to their game. Their throw looks the same, but for some mysterious reason his/her shots begin to stray off target. Once this process begins, it gathers momentum like a snowball rolling down a hillside. One almost gets the feeling that the person’s deliberately not trying. But why would a person put themselves into this humiliating position? Does anyone want to be despised? What is so terrible about being a winner?
The truth is that the world may love winners, but their lives – as the top players know- are not all great. They are the top of the tournament now, but everyone is looking to knock them off the pedestal. When you’re a loser, nobody wants your place. When you’re a winner, everybody does. Winners know their glory can be short-lived. They have to keep on winning to stay on top. Winners in ways are lonely.
The tragedy of the loser is that often s/he has the equipment to become a winner, but, because of some psychological flaw, s/he cannot (or will not) allow that potential to materialize. The other problem is too subjective an involvement with the game – a feeling that one’s worth as a human being will be measured in terms of success at a game, and a revulsion against this criticism of worth. Such a person wants to be accepted for what s/he is, not for what s/he can do. Therefore the loser won’t let his/herself win, because if s/he wins, they will be accepted as a human being on that basis. If a loser could develop objectivity independent of his/her ego needs, this person wouldn’t be a loser any more. However, the transition rarely takes place, so deep-seated is the infantile need for recognition beyond that derived from achievement.
As the loser becomes more skilled at disc golf, s/he often becomes equally skillful in their ability to lose. It’s comparatively easy to lose if you are an unskilled player, but it takes a unique kind of skill to lose if you’re actually a good player. The loser has the innate capacity to do just that. Their greatest pleasure comes from seeing how close they can get to the winners’ circle without entering its deadly circumference.
These are just a few of the types to be seen on the disc golf course, where the psychological soil is so rich that it can generate any kind of behavior. But, in general terms, there is no doubt that most people perform as golfers according to their basic personalities. They display on the course an overt form the same personality traits that they are able to hide in less vulnerable experiences.
However, no disc golfer need be a slave to him/herself. Whatever the basic personality of a player may be, if s/he understands it s/he can make it work for, rather than against, him/her on the course, and anywhere else. Indeed, this adjustment can be the richest part of the whole disc golf experience, in that people who come to grips with their personality flaws through the game can gain momentum that will help them better handle those same problems in other aspects of life.
In this perspective disc golf is truly a microcosm of life, and from it the aware golfer can derive much more than a higher player rating. Unfortunately, such is the potential of this game to totally saturate the human mind that for many disc golfers life is a microcosm of our small world of tournament disc golf.