Winning Is Hard… and so is avoiding argumentative traps for Seth Greenberg

Winning is hard. There is no doubt about it. It is a lot harder than losing. For instance, if a person were so inclined, s/he could lose on purpose. There are no ways to go about winning on purpose. So, yes, winning is much harder than losing — which makes winning, by default, hard.

Enter: Seth Greenberg.

I must admit. My initial reaction was, “Get’em, Seth! Winning is hard!” and so on. He is, technically not wrong. However, after having a few brief moments to take in everything that was retweeted into my timeline (I do not follow Seth on the mean streets of Twitter, an obvious failure by me), I had far too many different takes on the matter.

Let’s get the easiest part of the tweet out of the way first. As already mentioned: Winning is hard… but of course, you already know that.

Here’s what you need to know beyond that simple point: I’ll never understand why certain people need to revert to the “you didn’t play so you’ll never understand” line of thinking. I’m not exactly a car-builder dude, but I don’t need to fully understand the difference between engines in a 1988 Popemobile and a brand new Lexus to know that the latter is probably better at being a car.

There are certain things that people who coached and played at a higher level will understand better than the rest of us. I am not saying or implying otherwise. The actual issue at hand is, however, that Greenberg used the ‘random guy’ as a measuring stick of how he must think most people think, then used the guise of the tweeter never playing a competitive sport to dismiss what could have been a solid discussion on the topic… the discussion he didn’t create

No one thinks winning is not hard. Everything in sports is applied “relatively speaking.” In fact, as mentioned in previous incarnations of my work, I wish every single thing I ever wrote came with the disclaimer “relatively speaking,” before any actual words of consequence then appeared.

Life is hard, not just winning. Most rational, non-trolling members of society know and understand this. Greenberg fell for the trap — more specifically, the “respond to something absurd” trap.

Winning is very, very hard, although — for a college basketball coach — winning at Kentucky or Duke isn’t harder than it would be at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This is where winning, expectations, and history come into play… with ‘expectations’ probably being the most important part.

When a thing (in this case, a college sports program) wins a lot on an annual basis, we grow numb to seeing the same thing over, and over, and over again. It would be like watching adult videos on an endless loop and not expecting to not be attracted to members of the opposite sex the same way afterward.

Our expectations for programs such as Duke and Kentucky are different. Years of dominance, coupled with years of great NCAA tournament runs, have made us not really grow weary of their regular season success, but they’ve certainly determined the successes of their regular seasons by postseason dominance or lack thereof. This, again, is natural.

It is the same reason — on the complete opposite side of the spectrum — we go bonkers when a program like Florida Gulf Coasts goes on a miracle Big Dance run. That is NOT meant to happen. It is a near-work of fiction. We don’t expect these teams to be any good, at any point, so in the same way we lose our minds when Duke gets bounced in the first round of March Madness, we do so for FGCU when it topples one of the sport’s big boys on the way to doing something miraculous — relatively speaking, of course.

Obviously, Seth Greenberg’s tweet at some dude isn’t the biggest thing in the world. It barely rates on the fictional “weirder tweets” scale I literally just made up as I was typing this sentence. No one will remember his thoughts, in 140 characters or fewer, by the end of the week. This post isn’t some type of backhanded shot at him by any means.

It is a mere observation: like many of us world-wide-interwebs writers, Greenberg got caught up responding to one dude, someone most of us originally wrote off as absurd and giggled at in laughter as Greenberg tried to light him up one quote-tweet at a time.

There was just one problem: when thinking about this topic in the context of sports, that dude wasn’t all that absurd…

… because in sports, unlike other aspects of life, everything is truly relatively speaking.

About Joseph Nardone

Joseph has covered college basketball both (barely) professionally and otherwise for over five years. A Column of Enchantment for Rush The Court on Thursdays and other basketball stuff for The Student Section on other days.