IT’S not about winning or losing; it’s about how we played the game.
Have you ever heard this line after a game you played so hard? Yes, it’s what I call the “Loser’s Motto.” It is one line that a leader says after losing a game. It’s one line I don’t want to hear when I just lost a game.
It is never how one played the game. It is not something that is talked about. Nobody talks about the team who had all the heart, their spirit of sportsmanship, etc. but lost. It is the one who won who makes it to the headlines. Winning makes all the effort worth the while.
Yesterday, in our school, we had our field day. All students, teachers, staff, alumni and parents are assigned houses, yes, like the ones in Harry Potter, only for us, the houses were following colors, red, blue and yellow. The houses competed against each other in many events, races and sprints. Scores were tallied and at the end of the day, literally, the house with the highest score wins.
I belong to the Red House and all day long, we fought with all our heart and spirit for us to retain the Field Day champions. It was a close fight but we won by a small lead, making us the Field day champions for the seventh straight year (contested by I’m claiming it). I didn’t get to have the chance to recite the loser’s motto to my students.
Anyway, is there an economic theory that explains this behavior?
Well, there are at least two theories that can explain this behavior. The first one is the proposition of Adam Smith that humans are rational economic agents that only looks out for his own best self interest.
Who wants to go into a competition and wants the other team to win? We always want to win. We always want the glory and praise in every competition that we go to. As self-interested individuals, winning is everything.
Even if there is no monetary reward for winning, the honor and prestige that one gets for winning substitutes as the reward, and no one can even set a price that is equivalent to honor and prestige of winning.
The other theory that is applicable to this situation is the Utility Theory. Utility is basically the measure of satisfaction in economics. Imagine an indifference map with three indifference curves. Indifference curves show a combination of two goods, where any combination of the two goods within one indifference curve gives the same level of satisfaction. The indifference map shows a number of indifference curve one higher than the other. The higher indifference curve in one indifference curve, the higher the level of satisfaction the consumer gets.
Imagine that the game is presented in a indifference map that has three indifference curves. The lowest indifference curve is for the third place, the one in the middle is for the second place and the highest is for the champion. The highest one provides the highest level of satisfaction, and this one that is aimed for by anyone going into a competition, not the lower ones.
It is always satisfying to be the best, to be the champions, to be the first. What does one feel when you land on second place or last place? One feels sad. One feels that he should have done more. One feels bad. And when you hear the loser’s motto, he/she would want to strangle that person giving that bad motivational speech.
Bottomline is, it is great to feel very satisfied when one win, and it is not bad to always aim for the highest or the best. It is a natural reaction in every game. Don’t feel bad if you won over the rest, and one of them is your friend. You are a rational economic being if you played the game and you played the game to win. Everybody else does that, but not everybody wins.
You feel crappy when you lose, but always believe that the next time you compete, you will do your best to will and reach the highest level of satisfaction. You don’t stay down and just received the lowest level of satisfaction. You stand up again and beat the hell out of your opponent, and get to achieve the highest indifference curve in an indifference map. That is rational, that is being human. You fight to win. If you lost, you don’t stay bitter, you stand up again and fight to win, an who know, you might win that next time, and get to feel the satisfaction of being the winner.
Congratulations to the Red House! 7-peat!!! Good job, guys!!!