How to Be a Good Winner

One of the best quotes that I have heard spoken about being a good winner is, “The humbled athlete is gracious in defeat and modest in victory.” (Please forgive me that I do not know who to credit this quote. I believe it is C.J. Mahaney. Please correct me in the comment section if I have that incorrect.) To me, this quote embodies how to be a good winner. In my upcoming sports romance, Ice Gladiators, being released on 02/15/20, players experience both victory and defeat. That has inspired me to write today’s post.

In any game or sports, it is important to show good sportsmanship and not be a sore loser. Showing good sportsmanship means an athlete has the intention of playing fairly, treating their opponent with respect, displaying a sense of ethics, and feeling a sense of fellowship with competitors. Being a sore loser is defined as not accepting defeat well. However, it is equally as or more important to be a good winner. This also holds true for business ventures.; only, in business, it is referred to as professionalism.

The following list is some tips on how to remain a good winner. They are arranged in no particular order.

  1. A huge sign of a good winner is one who shakes his opponent’s hand. Try to be the first to extend your hand. If you’re not, that’s okay. However, be sure to firmly grasp the person’s hand but not overly aggressive. A good handshake lasts approximately five seconds and avoids excessive pumping (i.e., the up-and-down hand movement; two to three pumps should be sufficient). While shaking the person’s hand, make good eye contact. (NOTE: If shaking hands after participating in a sporting event or any activity that has caused the palms to become sweaty, it is a good idea to dry hands on a towel or with a cloth. Many athletes may rub their palm down their pants or across their shirt if shaking hands immediately after the game has ended.) Additionally, shake hands as soon as possible. In hockey, there is the on-ice handshake line at the end of games.
  2. Being courteous to the defeated. Acknowledge your competition as being a worthy competitor. Pay the person a compliment. However, if a compliment is given, be genuine about it and ensure that it comes across as being authentic. Any backhanded comments will be viewed as criticism or belittling. A nice added touch to a compliment is when the compliment is specific (e.g., “I know you put in a lot of hard hours, and you presented strong ideas to the board.”)
  3. This tip may sound like the previous in reverse; however, this goes a step further. It should go without saying, but it needs to be said. A good winner does not tease, taunt, or make fun of the losing team. Be humble and not boastful. You’ve already bested your competition. There is no need to brutally rude and obnoxious. Even if the winner does not pay a compliment or shake hands with the defeated, those may be overlooked. Purposely saying cruel words making cruel gestures is the epitome of a poor winner. As an example of this, there was an athlete who was recruited by a rival university to the largest university in his native state. This was a top athlete, and his recruiting was top news in the sporting world. Initially, this athlete indicated he would attend the university in his state but later changed his mind. He made some derogatory statements towards the university and their fans, which led to bad press in his home state. When the two universities played (in his native state), the team he’d joined won. As he exited the field, he made several rude gestures as well as more rude statements. Fans of the winning team took his lead and began making similar statements and gestures. The situation quickly spun out of control and fights erupted, mostly with the winning team’s fans being the ones needing medical care. The athlete began receiving death threats on social media. Now, none of this backlash was appropriate or justified; however, this situation could have been avoided by displaying a little decorum and good sportsmanship.
  4. Which brings me to the next point. Even if the opponent proves to be a sore loser does not justify one being a poor winner. Winners should take the higher ground regardless. Once victory is awarded, no one can take it away. Therefore, what is the point in stooping low to prove that the winner’s performance was better? Stooping to the level of a sore loser makes the winner also look like a loser.
  5. Hold back full-on celebrating until you are no longer in the presence of your opponent(s). This may consist of waiting until they have left the area or until you return to your dressing room. Most time defeated opponents do not stick around long. One of the most heart-wrenching events I’ve witnessed was the look on the Boston Bruins players after they lost the Stanley Cup to the St. Louis Blues in game seven in Boston. I was pulling for the Blues and was set to celebrate until that camera flashed to the opposite bench. I could feel the hurt and disappointment. And although they lost, the Bruins had no reason to hold their head in shame. They emitted a good performance throughout the series. It was instinctive to the Blues to celebrate. They’d earned it. That night they’d made history, winning The Cup for the first time in the duration of the franchise. But the handshake line was amazing how much respect was being shown. It was clear that the Blues displayed restraint in the handshake line, and the true celebration began after the Bruins left the ice. Class was exhibited by both clubs.
  6. Remaining until the end of the game and/or ceremony. There have been many examples where athletes have stormed off fields or left awards ceremonies when they were not on the winning end. One would think this behavior is only seen in young children, but that person would be wrong. One also may think this behavior is only exhibited by the defeated. Wrong again. There have been times when winners have exited early as a final insult or snub to their opponent. It’s as if the winner is making a statement that he/she is too good or elite to share the same space with his/her opponent. Staying until the end shows maturity and tact.
  7. Follow the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s simple enough.
  8. In cases where the winner is interviewed, try to be complementary, or at the very least non-derogatory, towards the opponent. This is especially the case if the two will be challengers to each other in the future. An example of this may be seen in politics. In primaries, when a defeated candidate concedes, he/she often encourages his/her supporters to support another candidate. Many times, the winning candidate will need that endorsement to gain the support of his defeated opponent’s supporters in order to win the general election. Being especially nasty and insulting in winning the primary may harm the winner’s chances later.

That’s pretty much it. It does not take much effort to demonstrate the behaviors of a good winner. Remember, once a winner does not mean always a winner. Losing does come around, and when it does, it is much easier not having to eat as much crow.

So, what are your thoughts on these tips? Did I miss anything? What do you think constitutes being a good winner? Have you ever encountered a poor winner? What was your experience? I would love to hear other’s opinions. Please leave your comments below.


Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit



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