Oh, That Winning Feeling


‘Oh, That Winning Feeling’.

The emotion and bond that can be formed in the elation of success is powerful. If you think about it, many of the greatest memories of any teams supporter-base, can usually be found as a result of winning.

But we all understand that not every team is going to win. Remember that it took the Chicago Cubs 108 years to win their World Series title, and more relatively, Ireland took 116 years to beat the New Zealand All Blacks. And while those dates are for major successes, over the period both teams still had many fine achievements. It is just that the highest honours/major events tend to stick out in the mind. That winning feeling!

Conor Murray of Ireland is congratulated by team-mate Simon Zebo after scoring against New Zealand (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

But across all sports, the jubilation found in success is all too common; be it the opening game of the year, or a win after 100 years of challenging yourself – see Simon Zebo and Connor Murray’s pure emotion.

“Oh that winning feeling” it is contagious. Fans rejoice, friends and strangers embrace. A conversation starter–unless it’s your workmate’s beaten team!

What a Result; Fan Engagement From That Winning Feeling

As much as for the players, the fan reaction is special, it is the relationship which is special. Just listen the next time your team scores a try. The wave of high-spirits runs through the stadium, even in a small sports ground. Be it a crowd of 50,000 or of 500–the sensation is similar.

And together, they are each applauding the efforts of their chosen team or favourite individual. That might be in scoring for a try, a well executed cross-field kick, or even a superb offload. Sometimes, the big tackle will get the cheers of both fans and team mates. It is an energy, the ‘psychic vibe’ as commentator Murray Mexted put it.

It is the image that most sports fans will agree epitomizes the fraternity of the game. Men, women or children, it is of team mates congratulating the other. ‘Well done’ and ‘great work’ as they high-five and share the belief that through combined efforts, success was a result.

Akira Ioane of the Blues celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Blues at Allianz Stadium on May 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The flipside is the lone figure above walking away. That sense of being bettered is also an element of sport. Downhearted; in comparison to the opposition, it demonstrates the fundamental of any contest: a winner and a loser. The runner-up, the next best in competition. Such is the cruel nature of competitive sport.

Team sports, and championship competition is different to a tournament or major competition like the Olympics. In a championship, that word is defined–Champion.

‘There can be only one!’ to quote the movie the Highlander.

The Highlanders celebrate after winning the Super Rugby Final match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium on July 4, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The championship is a knockout challenge. To challenge another team in a finals series; quarter-final, semi-final and/or grand final. To the victor go the spoils, so when the Highlanders (above) claimed their great Super Rugby championship in 2015, there had to be a losing side. The fact that it was the Hurricanes, on their very own home ground of Westpac Stadium, made it a harder pill to swallow.

However in a tournament, where teams qualify for a final round after a round-robin, the team with the most wins goes through. In an Olympic event [say 10,000 meters] you qualify for a final. In that race, the person who crosses the line first wins a Gold medal. There is a Silver medalist in second place, and a bronze medalist in third. So some satisfaction can come for the next best in that competition.

Rugby Driven by the Quest for Success

Knockout rugby is the ultimate competition most footy fans will agree. Men and women face off in a season long competition. And that ‘goal setting’ then becomes a boost for any side. The team together, sets about achieving the collective. Team sports by it’s nature, bring the group closer together–the quest for success is a natural element.

Professional sport is then the step above, where contracts and livelihoods are then affected. For a sports person who is contracted to play, it is a full on role. Add to that sponsor and organizational commitments and the daily/weekly training, and it is a full-on focus.

In rugby, professional sport has been around for nearly 25 years. At the time in 1994, many players were semi-professional, with the best receiving rewards and lucrative deals. After the 1995 Rugby World Cup, that all went fully professional, as the IRB stepped out of the shadows. And it has made it’s mark on the enjoyment of winning.

South African fans watch Francois Pienaar lift the Webb Ellis Cup in the Rugby World Cup final 24th June 1995. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Today People Get That Winning Feeling Too

On that golden day in 1995, the ‘rainbow nation’ got that winning feeling. The people; so long subjugated and separated, finally found their place back in the cradle of World Rugby. And it is that sensation, the collective enjoyment that gives sport a place in society.

National pride is a strong factor in representative sport, but at the heart of the game in New Zealand, is mateship. Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw, who studies religion believes rugby is a different ‘type of religion’ than it was, but much of the change has been in the way New Zealand experiences rugby.

“It is a transnational experience via mass media and the way Super Rugby brings overseas teams to us. Like all religion it has become part of an on-going series of lifestyle choices fitted in among other competing choices. We need to start taking sport and rugby seriously in New Zealand, as a means of engaging with and understanding our society.”

How much enjoyment that the public get from sport, is a common theme. Like at the Olympics, a sense of unity can be found in both supporting the game, as much as there can be from playing the game. Even if there are winners and losers, the game is usually the winner.

Sport Brings Families Together, and That Winning Feeling Caps it Off

For parents, the choice to suggest that children play sport is an individual one. From there, the boy or girl then makes his or her decision. ‘Yes, I want to compete’ or not. No forcing, no external pressures–it is the kid’s choice.

Thomas Barlow of Mount Albert Grammar celebrates during the match between Mount Albert Grammar and Sacred Heart at Eden Park (Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images)

From there, whatever sport is then a lifetime commitment. If it were rugby, that begins with the equipment needed and the time invested. The secret to success is how much that individual invests. If it is enjoyed, it will be valued. So external peer pressure is not a suggested way to build that winning feeling: even a winner, can feel like a loser if it is not enjoyed.

From this point, the game will take that individual as far as they choose to. With natural talent and through hard work, a player can reach the pinnacle, though even a club player who enjoys the local game each week of the season will still be content. If their team enjoys success, that same feeling will be present.

And when you get that winning feeling, nothing else compares.

“Main photo credit”