Tucker's Tales


"Coping With A Loss" by Cole Adams

Posted by Ally Tucker on July 19, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Just when you thought we were done with our World Cup coverage here on Tucker's Tales.....well, we're not! Guest blogger Cole Adams has come around for Round 2 and we are thrilled to have her. 

"Coping With A Loss"

By Cole Adams

Good evening. My name is Cole and I am a bad loser.

I trace my sore loser roots to my development as a tater tot and a treacherous deed committed by my father. You’ll see that Steve-O, my dad, was my chief and I was his little Indian. Nonetheless, he betrayed me.

For approximately a year, I was the World’s #1 ranked Candy Land competitor. From 1986-1987, I was undefeated. The final violet square on the board waited for me like a beacon in the night and the king of Candy Land never stayed lost for long. For a shining moment, I was a Candy Land hustler. Until one tragic evening when my chief, Steve-O, decided it was time for me to learn to play by the rules . . . The EFFIN RULES!!! Long story short: My mom had to physically restrain her flaxen haired angel to quell the screaming and possible attempts to slit her father’s throat with Candy Land playing cards.

That day left a remarkably bitter taste in my mouth. I now loathe losing and also deplore the idea of someone “letting” me win. A casual game of Slap Jack can turn into a bloodsport in a heartbeat. I haven’t learned a new game in years. It’s not safe. I will go Anton Chigurh (Google it.) on whoever is teaching me euchre, darts, or whatever nonsense someone thinks would be “fun” to play. If I’m not a prodigy, I hate it.

I was the kid on your 5 and 6-year old t-ball team who kept score (even though there wasn’t a scoreboard). If my coach made the grave mistake of calling us winners when we weren’t, I made sure the whole team knew about it. Without reservation I would turn a Capri Sun and granola bar from sweet to bitter by telling my teammates we lost 21-3 . . . to the chunky team. As a 6 and under swim team member, I wanted to swim fast enough to finish my lap and get out of the water to taunt the person who came in second. Not making it to my taunting position in time was, in effect, a loss. Do you see the start of a problem?

Although I haven’t been able to conquer my “losing demons,” I have sifted through some coping mechanisms over the last 25 years. In the wake of the US Women’s National Team’s tough loss to Japan Sunday, I felt I might share some of my tips with you.

You may have heard of the Kübler-Ross model. It’s more commonly known as the 5-Stages of Grief. It was intended for use when individuals were confronted with death and dying. I use it to handle sports failures. Tacky? Inappropriate? Overkill? Ridiculous? Useful? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And, Yes.

Stage 1: Denial.

When I worked for the Department of Public Advocacy (if you couldn’t afford an attorney in a few counties in South Central KY, I could have been the lawyer provided to you), I discovered the champions of denial. My clients. Nothing could shake them from their bizarre fantasy worlds. Did I just get indicted? Nope. If I don’t open the envelope with my Criminal Summons in it, it never happened. Do I have a warrant out on me? Nope. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. FYI, a warrant is like the wind . . . you may not see it, but you’ll feel it knock you on your ass.

On Sunday, I used a few different tactics to embrace denial. I paused the game after we kicked our 3rd PK, deleted all evidence of World Cup coverage from my DVR, and went outside to stare at the sun for a while. After 15 minutes and a couple singed retinas, there wasn’t a shred of proof in my house that the World Cup happened and I couldn’t see it if it did.

Stage 2: Anger

After a UK loss, I like to wallow in my rage for a little bit. In particular, I like to hate on Doug Gottlieb, Seth Davis, and Bobby Knight. Why? Because they’ll talk trash about my Cats the next time someone let’s them have a few seconds of air time and I consider my anger a preemptive strike. If all else fails, pull out your trump card and disparage Joakim Noah. I don’t even think his own mom likes him.

Unfortunately, I was so heartbroken after the game Sunday that I couldn’t muster an ounce of rage. My soul was crushed, so I moved on to the next stage.

Note: I am not a mental health professional. I am relatively certain some sorority sisters tried to perform an intervention or two on me my senior year at Transy; so, if anything, I am probably in need of mental healthcare. However, Wikipedia tells me I don’t have to transition through the stages of grief in chronological order. That’s awesome because I don’t think my fragile spirit could handle being a failure at grieving appropriately.

Stage 4: Depression

Time to get your sad on. I like to call this the blackout stage. You can take one of three approaches (or combine them if you’re brave):

1. Blackout Drunk: Grab a brick of Mad Dog, a case of Natty Ice (if you’re Sarah Burns or Jen Hamblin), or some Popov. Download some sad country songs, My Old Kentucky Home, and/or a dreadfully slow version of the Star Spangled Banner. Drink, sing, and sob. When you do all three to excess, you’ll have bigger things to worry about in the morning than your team losing such as:

• Where am I?

• Ouch. Is that my liver throbbing?

• Has anyone seen my sense of dignity?

2. Media Blackout: When I wake up in the morning, I turn on SportsCenter. At work, I watch Mike and Mike in the Morning. When I head home for lunch, I listen to the Scott Van Pelt Show. I keep KSR open in a window on my desktop to refresh throughout the day. When your favorite team suffers a monumental loss which will be covered by all of your favorite media outlets, it’s time to enforce the blackout. You can either keep functioning as normal and feel like your toenails are being ripped out one by one every time coverage of the loss comes up OR you can go on a sports hiatus. After the UK loss to UConn, the wide world of sports was cut off from me (by me) until Derby Day. For safe measure, I also stayed out of sports bars . . . like I really needed to break down crying over a basket of boneless wings in BW3s when Kemba Walker’s highlight reel played. Strangely, I actually worked at work. Damn media blackout.

3. Distraction Blackout: In the real world, hot button topics include things like abortion, marriage equality, and healthcare. In the world of Tucker’s Tales, Harry Potter is a hot button issue. My husband-roommate utilized the distraction technique to soothe himself after Sunday’s loss. He took me to see his homeboy, Harry Potter. For two hours, Mark was at Hogwart’s and Japan couldn’t touch me. Although I don’t care one way or another about an odd boy with a rad scar on his head, Harry Potter worked as a distraction for me, as well. I spent two hours trying to remember what the hell a horcrux was, wondering if I gave a damn if any of the characters died, and imagining what a badass wizard I would make. When I was done daydreaming, the movie worked as a double distraction . . . People were so busy watching Harry that they couldn’t see tears softly falling from behind my 3D glasses or hear me whimpering over the sounds of wizards wanding. I was able to mourn the loss in peace without gawkers.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I think for people who actually use these steps to cope with the dying process, this is a tough stage. Folks ask questions like, “Is there something I can do for more time?” or “How can stop this from happening?” For me, this is actually the easiest of the grieving steps. It’s like playing a sports-related game of creepy hypotheticals:

• Would you name your first child Adolph if UK could surpass UCLA in national championships and remain on top of that list for your lifetime? Yes. No doubt.

• Would you slice off the top portion of your left pinkie finger if the US Women could go back in time and beat Japan? Sure. That seems reasonable.

• Would you be willing to live in a wig wam by the Kentucky River for the next 25 years if UK could win one SEC Football Championship? Not sure. While I love winning, I also love our lowered football standards. It’s fun to cheer for a team with a fanbase that celebrates first downs like we just beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

• Would you suffer through epic hemorrhoids for the rest of your life if the United States could win the medal count at the Summer Olympics for the remainder of your lifetime? Probably. Even though the new Preparation H commercial makes it seem like having ‘roids feels like a cactus is growing into your butt, I pride myself on being a patriot. Throw in the Winter Olympics and it’s a no brainer. After some relaxing bargaining games, it’s time for the final stage.

Stage 5: Acceptance

I accept that the US Women’s National Team wasn’t the best team on the field on Sunday. That is all I am willing to accept.

I had an absolute blast watching the Women’s World Cup. Our team displayed an embarrassment of riches in personality, spirit, and athletic ability. I found the person I want to be like when I grow up: Pia Sundhage. I experienced the most excitement I’ve ever been a part of as a spectator during the Brazil game. So, we didn’t win this year. The fact that we didn’t bring home the trophy means we might get the joy of seeing a 35-year old Abby Wambach return in 2015 to try and get the victory that still eludes her (stay healthy, Abby). And the next Summer Olympics give us a chance to cheer on our team in a major international competition, again. Personally, I resisted taking any interest in soccer for about 20+ years, and this team got me to surrender to World Cup Fever. I couldn’t be more proud.

In Pia We Trust.

Observation: To assist you in moving through your stages of coping, I recommend the assistance of food. Between the hours of 4:30 and 9:00 on Sunday, I ate the following:

• Jumbo size buttered movie popcorn;

• 2 Baja Chicken Chalupas, a soft taco, and a Steak Quesadilla from Taco Bell;

• A Hot Fudge Sundae from McDonald’s;

• Four Doughnuts (2 cake, 1 glazed and 1 cruller); and

• A bowl of cereal.

When your waistband is cutting off bloodflow to parts of your body and your husband-roommate looks at you with junk food contempt, losing to Japan seems less important than trying not to throw up.

Categories: Guest Blog Entries, Sports

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