[Ads-l] Modern Proverb: A good loser is no good (Robert Zuppke Nov 6, 1924)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 12 22:22:07 UTC 2015

The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs includes an adage that deprecates
good losers with a first citation dated 1948.

[Begin excerpt]
A good loser is (still) a loser (Show me a good loser, and I'll show
you a loser).

1948 Howard Roberts, The Big Nine (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons) 83:
"These Illini teams went down to defeat but they went down fighting,
true always to Zup's [coach Bob Zuppke's] contention that 'a good
loser is no good.'"
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik has an entry in this topic area:
"Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser"

[Begin excerpt]
A 1931 article just after Rockne's death quoted him as having said,
"Be a good loser, don't beef. But don't lose." "'Show me a good loser
and I will show you a failure" was credited to Rockne in 1943.

University of Illinois football coach Robert Zuppke spoke in December
1929 about how he disliked the "good loser," saying "Show me a team of
singers about a defeat and I'll show you a team of punks." "Show me a
good loser and I'll show you an idiot" was said by the actor Paul
Gilbert (1918-1975) in 1956. "Show me somebody who likes to lose and
I'll show you an idiot" was said by the baseball manager Leo Durocher
(1905-1991) by at least 1967.
[End excerpt]

Here is a 1924 citation for "A good loser is no good" from Bob Zuppke,.

[ref] 1924 November 6, Santa Ana Register, Section 3: Sporting News,
West Winds: Here and There in Local Sports by Eddie West, Quote Page
17, Column 3, Santa Ana, California. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt; check for typos]
Bob Zuppke, the dynamic little coach who has made the University of
Illinois one of the country's most respected football contenders, says
that a good loser is no good. Zuppke declares that the good-loser
philosophy is spurious, that it is a sham and a fake and that if he
can help it he won't have a good loser on his team.

In the Nov. 8 issue of Liberty, Zuppke speaks his mind in part as follows:

"When I say that a good loser is no good I am merely making a
statement that every American, whether in sport or in business, knows
is true if he will stop and think. It is not commendable or desirable
to be a good loser. We Americans are not good losers, and neither are
the English. More than that, we really do not like good losers--we
merely pretend that we do.

"After a game has been lost I can always spot the good losers, because
they have appetites left for food and pleasure. At a time like this,
when a player asks, 'When do we eat?' or 'Are we going to a movie
tonight? I know that there is one fellow who is losing without much
mental pain and I start right out to replace him with a hard loser.

"It is my experience that all quitters are good losers. The right kind
of player must have a fear and horror of losing. If he hasn't he will
not tap his reserve energy in a game. The hard loser can do this
because he has a far deeper, more sensitive nature than the good
loser. He will play himself out.

"Just remember one thing: that to be a good loser is a sign of a dying
spirit. The man who hasn't an alibi is hopeless."
[End excerpt]

(bcced to Charlie, Fred, and Barry)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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