November 19, 2016
NEW YORK—The only thing worse than a sore loser, I suppose, is a sore winner, but thank God we don’t run into too many of those. Thirty years ago The Spectator and I lost a libel case that cost the then proprietor and yours truly a small fortune, and as it turned out, after the plaintiff had gone to that sauna-like place below, everything that I had written was the truth and nothing but. (The hubby of the woman who sued me came clean after her death, but a lot of good that did the Speccie and myself.)
The sainted editor at the time was Charles Moore, and in view of Justice Otton having taken great dislike to yours truly, he ordered me to remain at home when the decision was about to be pronounced. Nevertheless a few hacks parked themselves on my front door and demanded a statement. I asked them if they could find out the name of the German pilot who mistakenly bombed the Temple in 1942 and killed a hell of a lot of lawyers. “I would like to name my next son after him.”
Sportsmen used to not be sore losers, nor excuse makers. By sportsmen I mean the old amateur type of athlete of both sexes. My father used to go crazy when someone made excuses after losing a contest. Old dad was a wonderful 800-meter runner back in the days when track-and-field athletes ran for the glory of it, and the sport had not as yet become drug central. He told me about a friend of his who, having lost badly when running the marathon, said the reason he lost was because the winner had jumped the gun.
When I was on the tennis circuit back in the late ’50s, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans never made excuses after losing a match, while the French and Italians never failed to make one. The Greeks are pretty good at excuses also, and it used to drive me crazy when I was competing. Now that sport has become professional, excuses are the order of the day. I guess it goes with the territory. If a pro admits the opponent was better on a given day, he or she diminishes his or her own value dollar-wise. American professional football and basketball players are the worst. They make millions and all they do is complain and cry foul. Female professional tennis players at present are great crybabies, much more so than the men.
And speaking of crybabies, they are all over the streets nowadays, some of them rioting because the election didn’t go the way they wanted it to go. I suppose this is a new phenomenon: You lose, you cry, you demonstrate, you stamp your feet, you disrupt normal life, and you even attack people who voted for the “monster.” There is counseling at American prep schools, and classes have been called off in American universities. The spoiled dears are too upset to attend them.