To Cry, Or Not To Cry…

As a member of the fairer sex, a mother, and someone who never really played competitive sports growing up, you might expect that I would have no problem with Tim Tebow shedding tears after losing last night’s SEC Championship Game. After all, Tebow is an emotional guy and losing one of the biggest games of his career probably hurt him to his core, right? Wrong.  At least  that is not how I viewed his lack of composure. Since when is it okay (if you are over the age of 12) to break down and cry (in public) after losing a game, match or tournament? How is that not considered  poor sportsmanship?

Tebow’s reaction last night reminded me of a similar outburst by  Roger Federer, when he lost the 2009 Australian Open to Rafael Nadal. Federer, if you remember, couldn’t even speak he was so upset by the loss. I actually felt sorry for Nadal who wound up having to comfort Federer rather than fully enjoy and celebrate his victory. The post SEC Championship coverage both in the media and online (even made Twitter’s Trending List) focused not on Alabama’s complete dismantling of the number one team in the country, but rather on how Superman cried when someone finally stepped on his cape.  Not really fair to the underdog, Alabama team. I am not saying that Tebow (or Federer for that matter) shouldn’t shed tears if that is what they need to do, just please don’t do it on camera immediately after the loss.

We’ve all heard, and probably repeated, the Tom Hanks’ line from the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own, “There is no crying in baseball.” Perhaps, that should extend to all sports being played by people who have reached puberty.

What do you think, is it okay for professional (or high-profile amateur) athletes to cry publicly after defeat?

14 responses

  1. Very good Jennifer. I think this is my newest favorite blog. It’s not as if Tim Tebow has not had his fair share of success, holy crap. I was emotional from time to time, in the great moments, not the bad.

    RR

  2. LOL. I have no problem with players shedding a tear after an emotional loss or the conclusion of their playing days.

    Having said that, I must differentiate shedding a tear and sobbing like a baby. Tebow was certainly doing the later.

  3. jen, i think he went a little overboard myself… i have played sports, post high school, and i can relate to him being upset, but, that was a bit much..and after thinking about it some, IT WASN’T EVEN HIS LAST GAME!!! i might would give him a little slack if that were the case, but it’s not…therefore, that’s telling me he was crying because he lost the game, which is what my 6 year old twins do when they lose.(i’m trying really hard to put a stop to that, BTW)…LOL…so, i think i know his problem though, he really needs to get laid, if its true he never has, which i believe, after seeing him cry like that. whaddya think??

    • I don’t know Gil, I think Tebow might have cried because he truly believes he is Superman and Superman doesn’t lose, right? I mean it might look like Superman is going to lose but then at the very end of the episode he always manages to save the day. Tebow, couldn’t do that this time. Not even close. He looked a lot like a mere mortal this season (not sure why he was nominated for the Heisman) and I don’t think he knows how to handle that. My opinion, Tim needs to learn how to lose, especially if he somehow makes it to the NFL. Thanks for the comment!

  4. “I am not saying that Tebow (or Federer for that matter) shouldn’t shed tears if that is what they need to do, just please don’t do it on camera immediately after the loss.”

    Are you serious? Do you think he put the camera’s on himself? Should he have waited until after he got home and then cried into his pillow? Would that have satisfield you and not been too “immediate”? Are you saying that YOU have been in control every time you have cried?

    I admit I don’t think I would have cried in that circumstance but crying (sadness) is a pretty raw emotion. It’s not like you can always control that and when it happens. I thought his comments about Alabama after the game were respectful. I turn the question around to you, how IS simply crying bad sportsmanship? Having a tantrum in front of the other team would be or making excuses or blaming others would be, but he was on his own sideline and not seeking attention (from the video I saw).

    As far as the Federer video, I would say the same thing. I thought his comments about Nedal once he regained his composure were very respectful. Finally, believe me, I’m no Tebow fan, but your comments sound “holier than thou”.

    • I don’t know, these guys seem to have pretty good control over their emotions while they are playing the game, not sure why my expecting them to hold it together until they get to the locker room makes me “holier than thou.” Sobbing is not the same as shedding a few tears and both Tebow (and certainly Federer) were close to sobbing. Additionally, I have seen both Federer and Tebow win big games and not sob, so why lose control of your emotions like that only after a loss? That is what it makes it seem like bad sportsmanship to me. If they were kids, I’d understand, but they aren’t, so I don’t. Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  5. Even if you disagree with my comments, you should post them and not censor them. You don’t have to respond; that’s your choice. You asked a question and I answered it. I did not use inappropriate language and did not call you any names. I am critical of your opinion on this particular subject, though.

    I thought that was one of the points of a blog, to be able to express contrary opinions, if desired. As it stands now, it appears you are mainly interested in “atta girl”‘s. If you’re going to host a public blog, don’t be so insecure that you can’t have your ideas questioned.

    I understand this is your blog and you can, because you require that comments be approved, not post them. If you’re going to take that approach, you at least need to state it up front.

    • Bob, I didn’t post your last comment because you got personal. You wrote that I can’t handle people expressing emotion. Which lead me to believe, since you don’t know me, that for you this topic must be personal. Also, I don’t feel the need to repeatedly go back and forth with you about my opinion. I don’t mind you sharing yours, but I don’t want to turn this blog into a shouting match and to be honest, that seems to be what you want. Under my blog title it says: “A conversation about things that interest and inspire me” and that is what I would like to have a nice, civil conversation. I am more than happy to post your comments (as I did before and am doing now) and respond to them if that is what you want as well.

      As for the points/questions you made in your last comment (the one I did not post): Tebow was still crying when he was interviewed on the field after the game, so no, it wasn’t just when he was on the sideline. I, as stated in the original post, have no problem with people crying (contrary to what you implied) but think it is the equivalent of throwing a tantrum when you take attention away from your opponent by doing so. Federer, clearly did that to Nadal. He even says into the microphone, “God, this is killing me” before breaking down and having to walk away. In my opinion, and yes, that is what I am sharing on this blog, the reason Tebow and Federer reacted to these losses with extreme emotion is because they don’t know how to lose–again, my opinion. Being a good winner means you also are also gracious in defeat. Yes, both Tebow and Federer were able to pull it together and speak kindly and graciously towards their opponent after losing their composure. They are not bad people, I would expect that they could and would do that. My point was that immediately breaking down–and publicly–after the loss, appeared to be bad sportsmanship to me. I have watched both Federer and Tebow mow down opponents on a regular basis and never once, have I witnessed those opponents react the way they did in the examples I shared. Maybe they did after they walked off the court or the field, or maybe as you suggested the camera wasn’t on them and they sobbed, I don’t know, I didn’t see it and that was also part of the point I was making–I don’t want to see it because it makes me think you are a bad sport.

      I appreciate you reading the blog and taking the time to comment. I hope you will do so again.

  6. I’m still astonished that anyone would construe what either one of them did as poor sportsmanship. I saw it as genuine emotion expressed openly. I would, again, suggest to you that the other behaviors in which someone IS in control (such as whether or not they congratulate the opponent, as both did) are the factors on which to identify whether someone is a good sport or not. I could understand your point of view if this was how both reacted after all or most losses; then I could see that there was an issue. But both cases were so unusual, as evidenced by the amount of conversation about Tebow, in particular, that to choose to interpret them as bad sportsmanship is unfair or at best judgemental.

    You still haven’t addressed my basic points, that they didn’t seek out the attention and that the emotion is not something that the vast majority of people can simply turn on or off like a switch, which is what you are suggesting by saying they should have waited until later. I simply disagree with you on both of these points and would rather see condemnation of people’s bad behavior (not the display of emotion).

    Take Tiger Woods for example ….

    • I understand what you are saying. I just feel differently. The fact that we haven’t seen Tebow or Federer react this way before, I feel, can be chalked up to the fact that they rarely lose. Believe it or not, I actually prefer athletes who show emotion to those that don’t. Federer, until he started losing, rarely did. My understanding is that when he was a junior and coming up in the ranks, he had some outbursts that were definitely not in the tradition of being a good sport. So, maybe, in an effort to gain control over his emotions, he went the other way and rarely showed any. I didn’t watch him when he was a junior player so all I know is what I have seen in recent years. And in those recent years (until this last one and part of ’08) he showed little emotion when winning and only got agitated, or in the case of the Australian Open, cried, when he was losing or lost. I find that difficult to take. He is known for being gracious in victory, yet he didn’t seem to be able to stomach losing.

      Tebow, does play with passion and emotion, but I never saw him get that choked up after winning and here you and I disagree, I do think people cry when they win. Did you see the Penn State vs. LSU game yesterday? The Penn State quarterback dropped to his knees and very briefly shed tears after the win. Not only did I have no problem with that reaction, I felt happy for him, it was nice to see how moved he was by the victory.

      I don’t think either Tebow or Federer sought to draw attention to themselves by crying. I think that the attention they got was due to the way they expressed themselves. And I don’t think they were deliberately acting out, they were distraught (defined as being extremely upset) because they lost. Again, I will say, I think part of being a good winner is knowing how to lose graciously. These two know how to win. Just not sure how well they know how to lose.

      Finally, I will add that I agree with you 100% when it comes to what you said about wanting to see really bad behavior condemned. Serena Williams’ outburst in the 2009 US Open was disgusting and was received that way. The female soccer player who yanked the hair of her opponent (among other things) during a match also was nasty and appropriately labeled as being so. There are a few other examples that currently slip my mind. I get the distinction, I really do.

  7. Tebow has displayed poor sportsmanship on multiple occasions. He has performed the “Gator Chomp” several times in opponents faces after making a good play. He has not been shy about rubbing defeat in his opponents faces during the game, regardless of whether he shook hands follow the game.

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