We Love it When You Win. Just Not Too Much.

In America, we love winners. We’re a country of winners and we embrace those among us who are masterful winners. No place is that more evident than in sports. There’s a clear winner and a clear loser, and we all want to be a part of the winning team. We tell the tales of winners and heroes over and over again. We love winners.

But, I think that we can only bear so much winning before we turn on the winner. We’ll embrace a winner or a winning team until they win too much. Yes, win too much. There are many examples of teams that fall into this category – New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Florida Gators football, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers, etc. I realize there are many more, and I realize there may be other factors, but I think a major factor is that they won too much.

So what happens when they win too much? We turn on them. In fact, we celebrate their losses; we delight in their defeat.

Why is it that we get irritated by too much winning? Is it that we don’t like the expected? If a team or player becomes dominant, and it is expected that they’ll win, I think it actually begins to turn us off. There appears to be a bell curve. The more a person or team wins, the more we love them. But it peaks at some point, and the more they win, the more we dislike them. The more we root against them.

I think this winner’s bell curve theory applies to sports, celebrities, politicians, even our friends. We start to root for successful people to fail. We want to root for the underdog. We want to root for those who shouldn’t win to win, and root for those who should win to lose. We don’t want to see people continue to win. Why do we do this?

Bell Curve

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Ryan Jerz said,

    I think you’re right to a degree. You still have to factor in fandom in sports. For instance, the Yankees’ fans (and them being the number one team in the number one US market means there are an awful lot of them) won’t ever desert them if they win ten straight. They’ll just become the most insufferable bunch that an individual can come across. Your bell curve would then be really out of whack with a giant blip at one end. Same goes for the Cubs in the other direction. Another number one team in the number two market that hasn’t won since, like 1532.

    Overall I think you’ve hit on something in that it may average out over time, except that with sports the amount of teams is too small to be dead correct. Sample sizes aren’t big enough to get the best bell curve.


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