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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 27 21:18:16 UTC 2019

Back in February 2015 I sent a message to this mailing list about the
quotation in the subject line. Now the Quote Investigator® website has
an entry on the topic:


[Begin acknowledgement]
Thanks to researchers Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R.
Shapiro who wrote about this family of sayings in “The Dictionary of
Modern Proverbs” from Yale University Press. Thanks also to researcher
Barry Popik who explored this topic on his website. Additional thanks
to discussants Jonathan Lighter and Dan Goncharoff.
[End acknowledgement]


On Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 5:22 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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"
> http://bit.ly/1KPtTJH
> [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)
> Garson

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