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Winner Take All Society

In the popular rock band Wilco's song, "The Late Greats," lead singer Jeff Tweedy sings, "The best band will never get signed ... The best song will never be sung, the best laugh will never leave your lungs." While the lyrics may be dour, the tune recognizes a truth in any pursuit of fame and fortune. Those most talented in their fields sometimes do not make it to the top for various reasons. This is also true in a vocation where competition is stringent and stress can be overwhelming: sports. The reasons for this unfortunate truth are threefold: psychological pressures, bad luck and poor individual decision-making.

In all sports--from hockey to baseball--talented players do not make it to the professional leagues because of psychological pressures. Success is usually the goal in any endeavor; but in attempting to play professional sports, where competition is rife, one must relentlessly pursue success in order to have a job. Such a persistent drive to be successful makes failure an ever-present fear. The urge to avoid failure can be dangerous if not addressed in a measured manner. The British Psychological Society concurs, writing that, "Young athletes can fear failure to such an extent that it affects their sporting performance, well-being, relationships, and even their schoolwork" ("Elite Young Athletes Fear Failure" 1). Fear of failure can disrupt life outside of sports as well, which must be in balance for the long ascent to success in sports. In essence, these talented aspirants are on guard in order to avoid failure, but forget that failure is an unavoidable part of sports. (Even the best hitters in baseball only hit the ball one-third of the time.)

Distaste for failure can be healthy for any ambitious athlete and be a motivation to do well. But when a fear of failure develops and begins to interfere with performance, it can transform into performance anxiety. This can derail any acquired confidence and reduce oppo...

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Winner Take All Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:10, May 28, 2020, from