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Alyways: South Africans make excellent losers

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Alyways: South Africans make excellent losers

by Aly Verbaan
27 Aug 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

I GLEAN from secret Internet archives that Cape Town had "hinted at" bidding for this year's Olympic Games, but had then "failed to commit".

After the slap in the face of that decrepit, antiquated ruin that is Athens snatching the glory, it's a wonder anyone would have thought to offer the selectors another chance to snub us.

No matter, at least the miscreant didn't get far, and this year we were annihilated a million miles from home, which is infinitely preferable to being whipped on home turf.

Witness the so-called rugby and supposed cricket of the weekend. Please.

But to return to the point, we, the people who have to call themselves South Africans in front of other people, for heavens' sake, should at least be grateful that, unlike China and Greece, we are not left holding the baby after a two-week orgy (quite literally, if the Sunday papers are to be believed).

How much worse would our performance, or lack thereof rather, look in the cold light of the day after, hung-over and saddled with the remains of a game that someone else won? No thanks.

One does wonder, not in bitterness (of course not) how Jamaica - an island with a population one-twentieth of ours - managed to run away with a mine of gold, silver and bronze.

South Africans are usually great runners: running from hijackers, running from the truth, running for the gravy train, running for president, running from the police, running from other countries and so on - perhaps we are simply too exhausted for competition.

But let the Olympics, the Cry-Nations and the Sashes (as I call the hit-and-giggle cricket events between England and us) be a lesson to the world. Let no one say that we don't lose properly, at the very least.

We give meaning to the word "belly-flop" in diving; contestants literally scramble because of us in the BMX event (how that became an Olympic event is beyond me); we lose very convincingly at rugby, particularly to islands with populations that can barely yield a team of 15; and in cricket we deliberately don't pick our best player, send him off to captain another team, and then invite the masses to watch him beat us, sometimes even on our own turf.

Certainly we have become accustomed to the taste of losing. A psychologist would no doubt say we suffer from a fear of success, something we no longer need worry about.

I do not wish to be a doomsayer, but I suggest we prepare for the psychological devastation that will undoubtedly be the aftermath of the Fifa World Cup in 2010 (is anyone clear yet on whether we are allowed to utter the sacred words, individually or in a cluster?).

We are going to stage an event in which we can have no hope of glory, but will certainly be left clutching the bill. Looking on the bright side, though, we are not to be set up for disappointment, and lord knows there's no performance pressure on Bafana Bafana.

According to shrinks, Olympic medallists can suffer from severe post-win depression and find a return to so-called normal life impossible to cope with. No problem there, then.

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