We always hear that there is a fine line between winning and losing.
No matter the athletic level.
But can I tell you that there is a big disparity between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Especially the more meaningful a game is.
Could be a rivalry matchup, or a league and conference championship game at stake, and then there is the further a team advances along a tournament or playoff trail.
More on the line for sure.
And then to add to it, if you are a senior playing quite possibly your last game, it is unbelievable the difference there is between winning and losing.
I saw that firsthand Saturday night while broadcasting the Elida/Bath boys’ basketball game.
First off, it is a huge rivalry.
Then to know that the two teams are playing for a district championship and the chance to advance to the regional tournament.
Talk about an emotional setting.
It was packed to the rafters at Liberty-Benton High School.
Sold out, baby.
From the last few minutes of the first half until the very end of the game, there was no way you could figure out who was going to win.
The lead changed hands multiple times.
Bath had a two point lead late, but Elida still had the opportunity to tie the game or win it, if the Bulldogs could convert a final basket.
The Bulldogs missed a 3-point shot as the clock wound down and the buzzer sounded.
Bath had won dramatically.
The Wildcats student body stormed the court.
Bath players and coaches were hugging and high-fiving one another.
At the same time, Elida players were strewn across the floor, heartbroken at the last-second defeat.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
For the victors, it was a time to celebrate and to advance to play another game.
For the losers, a great season had ended, and for some of the Bulldogs, it was the end of their high school career.
After my broadcast, I went into the hallway and saw Elida’s Dakota Mathias huddled close to his family.
Tears were streaming down Dakota’s face.
His mother was crying alongside her youngest son.
Then there was a hug between the two.
It really got to me emotionally.
I kept saying during my broadcast, that both teams were winners on this night, there were no losers.
Sure didn’t feel that way watching Dakota and his family.
I gave Dakota a hug and told him how proud I was of him.
“To give it your all and battle with all of your heart and soul,” I told Dakota.
“Be proud of you and your team’s effort and how you handled yourselves after this bitter loss.”
Look, it is easy to win.
It is much more difficult to handle a loss.
Especially a loss that means you are done playing.
I reminded Dakota that he had one of the best high school basketball careers, not just in our area, but in the state of Ohio.
And as good of a basketball player that he is, he was an even better person.
“Take that with you to Purdue, and you will be fine,” I told him.
I remember later that night, talking to a Bath parent who mentioned overhearing an Elida parent walking out of the gymnasium that night, feeling sorry for the Bulldog players and the difficult loss.
I reminded the Bath parent that it could have been her walking out of that gymnasium and saying the same thing about the Wildcat players, if that last second shot goes in and Elida is the victor.
The fine line between winning and losing.
It is also why I love doing what I have done for the past 34 years.
Here’s to 34 more.
You can comment to Vince Koza at firstname.lastname@example.org.