Win With Grace, Lose With Pride

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Anytime someone’s child, money, and hard work are involved in anything there is a chance that someone will get upset if something doesn’t go their way. In the stock show world parents are usually heavily involved. So, when families spend all day everyday staring at their animal they will sometimes think that it is the greatest thing that has ever graced their farms presence. Sometimes the animal is really great and sometimes it isn’t. I have seen some extremely poor sportsmanship in the ten years I spent showing. In the bigger shows it is expected because there are so many other exhibitors there, and no one knows everyone. I never would have expected the most awful sportsmanship to come out of my own county. I have learned throughout the years that all counties struggle with someone and their poor sportsmanship.

I spent a good amount of my show career losing. Me and my family just couldn’t catch a break it seemed, and something always would go wrong. Until my sophomore year arrived. I showed my steer at my counties spring livestock show and won. I was excited and on cloud nine. My family and myself never rubbed it in, we just took the trophy and went on. I guess me winning made someone upset though, because the next week I received an anonymous letter in the mail.

I thought maybe someone was going to tell me good job, sadly it was the worst thing ever. Someone sent my family a typed letter with the rules accusing me of cheating. I remember feeling hurt, and couldn’t believe that someone would sink that low. My parents weren’t happy. We never found out who done it, although we had our suspicions.

I could have cried and just gave up showing, but instead I used that letter as motivation. I put it in a frame, and put it where I could see it every day. That letter went to every show with me. My junior year I used that letter and ended up winning Grand Champion in my county, and Reserve Grand Champion. I know for a fact that the people that wrote that letter probably wished they hadn’t after that.

Winning isn’t everything, but if you do it is the greatest feeling of all time. There is NEVER a reason for someone to lose with anything other than pride.

Here are the most common problems local shows have. All of these I have seen or been through first hand.

  • NEVER say something you are going to regret. Words can’t be taken back once they leave your mouth, and trust me saying mean things will put a target on your back. “You suck and so does your goat.”
  • Making excuses about why the judge picked someone else. Let’s face it, every judge has a different opinion, and someday your animal won’t fit that judges criteria. If you constantly bicker about the judge and make excuses, you are exhibiting more than an animal. You my friend are exhibiting a bad attitude of poor sportsmanship. “The only reason Sasha won was because the judge was her 6th cousin twice removed.”
  • Complaining about politics. Politics in the bigger shows are going to be used, that unfortunately is part of showing. Constantly crying about them won’t help your situation out any. If you feel politics are stopping you from winning, maybe you should make some connections of your own. “The breeder of that sheep is best friends with the judge.”
  • As a parent you should never degrade kids, especially if you don’t want a parent to say something to your kid. “You are a spoiled brat who only won because your steer was red and the judge liked color.”
  • Pretend like you know everything about anything. No one knows EVERYTHING, especially in the show world. In the show world things change. You never go without learning something new. Some people I know act like they are the greatest breeders of all times, and know it all. It is really annoying. “You never stop learning. When you stop learning, you stop winning.”
  • If you are a parent don’t get in that show ring. It is so frustrating to see parents showing the animal for the kid, or pretending to be a ring hand so they can help their kid and hurt others. “As an adult you should learn maturity. It comes naturally for some but others struggle with it. If you have to kick someone else’s kid down to put yours on a pedestal, you aren’t doing parenting right.”
  • Laughing when you see a kid crying from frustration. I also witnessed this at a local show. There are some 4H kids that are about 8-10 years old that are just learning how to show. Everyone has a bad day, and shame on the people who were laughing and pointing. “If you laugh at others when they are going through a hard time, just know that karma has been known to be fair. We will see how funny it is when that kid crying is someone that shows for you.”
  • Shake hands. Win or lose shake hands. That’s sportsmanship and showmanship, and its something that needs to be practiced. “Congratulations on winning, or good job showing can make someone’s day.”
  • Constantly running your mouth. This is a problem for some that probably don’t realize they have it. If you constantly run your mouth, someone will want to shut it. This is the best way to make someone so mad that they focus all of their attention on beating you. “Sometimes it’s better for others to assume you are a fool, than to open your mouth and prove that you are. Win with grace, and lose with pride.”
  • Last but not least, show at more than your county show. If you stick at your county show and never leave to experience bigger competition, you aren’t getting the full experience. If you stick to that one show out of the entire show season, you probably will think you have the best animal. Go out and go see how the bigger breeders get things done. “If you stick to your county you won’t learn how the champions of your state get things done. If you say you have the best you should prove it.”

I would like to personally thank the person who wrote that letter to me in high school. You really were the best motivation for me to stay a few more hours in the barn and work with all of my heart to win it all. I hope that one day people could learn to have friendly competition. It sadly won’t happen though; because people let their emotions do their talking.

Please think twice before doing or saying something. Don’t be ignorant and show others. Be inspirational and show others.

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