Confessions of a Sore Loser

If  there was such a thing as Sore Losers Anonymous, I could go to the meeting and say, “Hi, I’m Jack and I’m a sore loser.”  Then everyone would say, “Hi Jack.”  But there is no such thing.  I know, because I Googled it!

I told my son, Paul, that I was going to write on being a sore loser, and he said, “Dad, if you need any material, just let me know.”

When I was a little kid, I would bring my bat and ball to the neighborhood games.  If I were unhappy with how the game was going (or someone called me out, when I knew I was safe), I would take my bat and ball and go home.

When I was nine, we went on a vacation in the Ozarks.  My uncle, Bob, challenged me to a checker game.  What a fool.  Didn’t he know that I was the world’s greatest checker champion?  Some how he started jumping all my pieces.  I was furious.  I had three checkers in my hand.  They were made out of Bakelite (one of the early plastic products).  And before I knew it, I had crushed the pieces.  That was really dumb, because with the pieces broken, I couldn’t get a rematch.

Like many kids, I played sports all year round and my philosophy was that if you treat every game like a life or death struggle, you would lose less ofter.  There may be a grain of truth in that approach, but you end up as a basket case when you lose.  Sometimes I would blame the officials, sometimes I would blame my team mates.  One time I decided it was my fault.  But then I decided I was wrong!

Somewhere in my fifties, I had lost a sufficient number of times to where I realized it wasn’t the end of the world.  I retired from the Army and took an appointment as Chief Counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation.  After I had been there a short while, one of my attorneys advised me that our office had a softball team and that we played the other offices in NHTSA.  I agreed to play with them.

Boy, were we bad.  And with no umpires, long drives down the foul line seemed to end up in long arguments.  At the end of our third game, I got into an angry argument with someone from the Planning Office.  I finally realized that I was no longer 12 and walked away.  The next morning, both of us sought the other out and apologized.

Later that afternoon, I gathered all the Chief Counsel players into the conference room and told them I had some good news and some bad news.  The good news was that as people grew older they mellowed and became less aggressive.  The bad news was that I had already passed through that phase and was still pretty bad.

I seriously considered not playing, but decided on a three-step philosophy.  First, don’t get hurt.  Second, don’t show your backside.  And lastly, if you can do the first two, then, by all means, win.

Is anybody up for a game of checkers with a former world champion?

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2017


3 thoughts on “Confessions of a Sore Loser”

  1. You are still the greatest. Read your piece on “sore loser” to Nancy and you should have seen her smile with I read the name of the author at the end. Still think of our trip to Ireland and the laughs we had. How about the time you fell down the cliff trying to get a picture of the water while we were on the bus… Now, there’s a story.

    Best wishes from friends and fans,

    Steve and Nancy

  2. Enjoyed the post and remembered our efforts in tennis doubles at V Corps. Thanks for not berating me and holding me up to ridicule in this post. Ken

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