With winning a presumed birthright with our beloved Patriots, losing feels like an out-of-body experience. That is exactly what Patriot Nation is currently experiencing, as the reality of our Super Bowl loss feels like we’ve been robbed of a ritual to which we are so deeply accustomed.
Simply put, we are not good losers, because we have not had much practice.
The Patriots have redefined the phrase “football dynasty,” the Celtics live in the pantheon of basketball legend, the Red Sox have made repeated trips to the promised land, and even the Bruins are becoming contenders. Our college hockey teams are perennial contenders for the national championship, and we produce a healthy crop of Olympic athletes and gold medal winners every four years.
Our winning ways and belief in the inevitability of success extends well beyond the playing fields but across other fields as well.
Of course we expect Harvard and MIT to be voted the best colleges in the nation. We naturally assume Massachusetts General Hospital will be voted among the best hospitals in the country. We almost yawn when our local academics collect Noble Prizes. We treat new and often world-changing inventions here with little or no fanfare.
Do we expect Amazon will select us for their new second headquarters? Certainly and if they don’t, we don’t care because another company will come along that better recognizes all our virtues. The reality is that winning is a part of our culture, and when you are wired to win, losing is hard to accept. For us defeat is reserved for somebody else, and we become indignant when it actually occurs on our turf.
It is no secret that much of the country feels we act entitled and resent our disproportionate sports success. Indeed, only 16 percent of Americans wanted the Patriots to win according to a Monmouth University poll and actually 39 percent were actively rooting for us to lose.
There is a perception that we are spoiled winners and will seek victory at any cost, but the reality is we just have a winning mindset. It is far healthier to expect victory than assume defeat.
Many cities may be more graceful in defeat than us, because defeat is what they know best. Fans in Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland for example are perfectly magnanimous when they come up short because defeat is no stranger. For us, defeat is a violation of our expectations.
The Patriots’ Super Bowl loss and the prospect that the dynasty could be over is unnerving. The Pats have become emblematic of who we are, and the fact that we lost a game that we were supposed to have won does not sit well in a city that embodies the Zen of triumph.
Boston will always be a winning town, because we believe in ourselves and have collective capabilities that other areas do not. Success is reflected in everything that is now happening here — from the economy to sports to the growth of our population and to the cranes that dot our skyline.
The only time Boston would need to worry about itself is if we become graceful losers because we’ve had too much practice.
Bruce A. Percelay is chairman of Boston-based Mount Vernon Co. Talk back at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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