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Tips on Being a Healthy Competitor

Whether you're a sore loser or a sore winner, you're still not fun to play with. Stop it.

I'm going to start this off by saying that it's okay to be competitive. Nobody really enjoys losing when they've actually tried at something. What's not okay is when your overall attitude is flat out unsportsmanlike. On that note, I'd like to offer some advice on how you can avoid unsportsmanlike behavior.



Identify your unsportsmanlike behavior. 

1) Don't be a sore loser.

We've all been this person (or all these people) at least once:

  1. You were so close to seizing victory, but couldn't pull through as the clock ticked down.
  2. You got totally crushed by someone who was clearly more skilled/practiced up than you.
  3. You unexpectedly encountered a button-mashing demigod and fell victim to their eldritch magics.

If you broke the television and/or threw the cat after any of these scenarios, you're probably a sore loser. I'm not downplaying your attempt, but, in the grand scheme of things, this one loss is not the end of the world. If it feels that way, you probably expected yourself to win, and I honestly can't feel bad for you belittling your opponent's skills to the point of your own defeat.

Solution:

Be critical of your own performance and learn from the experience. It's easy enough to brush off defeat if you focus on victories to come. So for now, fall with grace. Adjust your strategies accordingly. Level up a few more times. Cut back on the salt. The important thing is to stay motivated. You'll live.

2) Sore winners are no better than sore losers.

They're actually considered much worse in most cases.

  1. Toying with your opponents in such a way that they feel inferior to you.
  2. Calling them out on obvious mistakes, but offering no constructive criticism.
  3. Congratulating them on an already embarassing defeat.

These are the people that deserve to be button-mashed into oblivion. Whereas sore losers are human salt shakers, sore winners are just self-righteous jerkfaces. "I'm better than you, so it's my job to beat you." I won't even lie – I've been this person, and although only toward particularly aggravating people, I'm still in no way proud of it. 

Solution:

Lighten up. Seriously, nobody cares that you're talented if it comes at the price of your personality. Don't feel insulted when challenged, because being the one someone aims to beat is acknowledgement enough of what you can do. Keep improving yourself and inspire them to do the same. Make it a fair fight.

3) Rage quitting is not cute.

It's so not cute that y'all don't even get bullet points. As compared to sore losers and sore winners, rage quitters are by far the most sore, considering they don't even follow the game out to a definitive end. Most rage quitting happens in cooperative games, meaning that the rage quitter isn't only giving up on themselves, but their entire team as well. No bueno.

Solution:

Believe in the comeback. Trust in your skill and that of your teammates. Give it 110%. A little bit of elbow grease isn't going to hurt your cause. DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.

Even if you can't see a clear way out of a crappy situation, commit to working toward the desired outcome. Frankly, you don't even deserve to win if you aren't putting work in – remember that if nothing else. It's actual life advice beyond the realms of MMOs and MOBAs.

4) There IS such a thing as healthy smack talk.

If someone's actually insulted, you're doing it wrong. Let's build some tact.

  1. Avoid all touchy subjects and derogatory terms.
  2. Save the experimental lines for your friends.
  3. Get to the punch line. If there's a windup, you're being a bully.
  4. Smile. It's weird if you don't.
  5. If for whatever reason you still manage to upset them, apologize.

There is always that one person who you really want to see put in their place. Chances are they're someone that talks hella smack. To avoid being that person, you must filter yourself when indulging in playful banter. I'm known for not having a filter, but I at least know better than to poke fun at strangers. If you don't know them, don't butcher their first impression of you with a sour joke.

How to make the most out of competition:

Two simple steps.

  1. Don't hold back. Respect your opponent by giving them your all.
  2. And, most importantly, HAVE FUN. That is why you're playing, right? :)

In all of my time as a competitor, I've seen toxicity of all shapes and colors – and 99.9% of it falls into the categories above. To be honest, it takes upkeep to be such a pain in everyone's buns. Instead, put your time and energy into the opposite. Being a healthy competitor is as easy as being a good person. And you'll have a lot more fun doing it.

How do you keep competition friendly? Any tips you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Published Jun. 13th 2015

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