Law students: Guard well against your “sore loser” moment … i.e., don’t go all Cam Newton on yourself

Posted on 02-12-2016 by
Tags: Top Stories

Love Cam Newton … great football player, sharp guy. Don’t love so much … his Super Bowl 50 grump-a-thon. Particularly this quote after he was called out about it:

I've been on record to say I'm a sore loser …. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I'm going to show you a loser. It's not a popularity contest. I'm here to win football games.

Got no problem with the “don’t like losing” thing, but the idea that a “good loser” is always a loser – that’s a bit of a rub, though the idea’s been around for a while:

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser. - Vince Lombardi

Show me a good loser in professional sports, and I’ll show you an idiot. Show me a sportsman, and I’ll show you a player I’m looking to trade …. - Leo Durocher

I’m not an easy loser, anytime. Let the good losers play for other teams. I like to win. – Y.A. Tittle

Cam’s too young, Durocher too crotchety, but Lombardi – he’s proven a wise, old sage, making it tough to disregard his quote. But I don’t think being a “good loser” – despite what Lombardi said – is a bad thing.

Cam, Lombardi, Durocher … theirs isn’t the gospel. You can apply Newton’s Third Law (not Cam … Sir Isaac): for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Here’s a few opposites to Cam’s “sore loser” quote:

When you’re a winner, you come back no matter what happened the day before. - Billy Martin.

Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turned out. - John Wooden

I enjoy winning, but there are benefits to losing, too. Before you can be a winner, you have to learn to lose. - Isiah Thomas

I feel that the most important requirement in success is learning to overcome failure. You must learn to tolerate it, but never accept it. – Reggie Jackson

The Good Loser Law Student

As law students, you understand that Cam’s quote “You show me a good loser and I'm going to show you a loser” is empowered by syllogistic reasoning:

All men are mortal

All good losers are losers

Socrates is a man

Cam Newton is not a good loser

Therefore, Socrates is mortal    

Therefore, Cam Newton is not a loser

But as law students, you also understand that terms need definition to be comprehensible, if not actionable.

So what’s the true definition of a “good loser”?

· Is it the opposite of a “bad loser”? Put another way, is the “good loser” insufferable because he/she doesn’t act badly?; or

· Is the “good loser” he/she who finds losing acceptable and derailing and does so gladly and without grace? That is, is he/she “good” at the art of losing?

For me, it’s the second. Basically, a “good loser” contradicts these two beliefs about losing:

When it turns out that you’re the loser on a given day, you can be a graceful loser, but it doesn’t mean that you’re a loser in the sense that you’re willing to accept losses readily. … It’s wrong to accept defeat as a loser. Be graceful about losing, but don’t accept it. – Nolan Ryan

As for me, let what will come. I can receive no damage from it unless I think it a calamity; and it is in my power to think it none if I so decide. – Marcus Aurelius

So to be good at losing means accepting your loss.

To be good at losing means calamity-thinking.

To be good at losing means losing without grace.

The “good loser” fails, but the “empowered loser” wins – graceful, yet at the same time, unaccepting and undamaged. I hope this is what Lombardi left unsaid.

As law students, you’re gonna suffer losses in school, in law, in life. I’ve had my fair share of crappy outcomes … losses. Out of law school, I suffered 9 months of rejection before I landed my first legal job.  But nine months of loss empowered me. I hung every rejection letter on my wall, never accepting them, steely against calamity, trying to stay graceful.

Not buying it? Then maybe you – and Cam Newton – need an illustration. I’ll let 1950’s Andy Griffith make my point:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

And if not that, then this from Orlando Magic VP, Pat Williams:

Winners vs. Losers

When a winner makes a mistake, he says, “I was wrong;”

When a loser makes a mistake, he says, “It wasn’t my fault.”


A winner works harder than a loser and has more time;

A loser is always “to busy” to do what is necessary.


A winner goes through a problem;

A loser goes around it, and never gets past it.


A winner makes commitments;

A loser makes promises.


A winner says, “I’m good but not as good as I ought to be;”

A loser says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people.”


A winner listens;

A loser just waits until it’s his turn to talk.


A winner respects those who are superior to him and tries to learn something from them;

A loser resents those who are superior to him and tries to find chinks in their armor.


A winner feels responsible for more than his job;

A loser says, “I only work here.”


A winner says, “There ought to be a better way to do it;”

A loser says, “That’s the way it’s always been done here.” 

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