Sports column: If you’re to be crushed this season, be crushed gloriously

Published 8:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2022

One of my favorite historical quotes that applies to sports came from Baron de Bassompierre, the under secretary of the Belgian Foreign Office, in August 1914.

On the eve of World War I, his country received an ultimatum from Germany — allow the German army to march through Belgium on its way to invading France, or resist and be destroyed.

The Belgians could not hope to defeat the Germans. Nor could they allow the Germans to occupy their country and likely annex it.

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The Belgians decided to go down fighting. Bassompierre summed up the sentiment by saying, “If we are to be crushed, let us be crushed gloriously.”

Belgium was largely conquered in a month, which was two or three weeks longer than most people expected it to take. Strategically, however, their determined resistance was vital to disrupting German war plans and giving their French and British allies time to mobilize their own armies. A small pocket of Belgian forces even held a portion of their country until the end of the war in 1918.

Bassompierre’s quote often pops into my head when I’m watching a one-sided sporting event. It certainly contains a vein of dark humor, along with a defiant sense of honor and purpose that applies to modern life and sports in particular.

There are times when, going into a game, you know one team is hopelessly outmatched. One-in-a-million upsets happen, but there’s a reason they only happen once in a million times.

Even so, the game has to be played. There’s no running. No hiding. Giving up will only make things worse. The only option is to put in a great effort, play to your strengths, make the opponent earn it and live with the results.

As we head into football season, plenty of teams will find themselves in this situation. It might be Southern Miss playing at Miami, Louisiana-Monroe at Alabama, or an 0-9 high school team playing a state championship contender, but the underdog still has to — still gets to — show up and play, so why not do it with a winning mindset?

The worst case scenario is that you are beaten anyway, so try to win every play, every battle, and see how it winds up. Even if you lose, you can do it without regrets.

Lots of teams are crushed. Not every team is crushed gloriously. If you are to be crushed this season, be crushed gloriously.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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