Losing Isn't Everything : The Untold Stories and Hidden Lessons Behind the Toughest Losses in Sports History
by Curt Menefee and Michael Arkush

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A refreshing and thought-provoking look at athletes whose legacies have been reduced to one defining moment of defeat--those on the flip side of an epic triumph--and what their experiences can teach us about competition, life, and the human spirit.  Read more...

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More About Losing Isn't Everything by Curt Menefee; Michael Arkush

A refreshing and thought-provoking look at athletes whose legacies have been reduced to one defining moment of defeat--those on the flip side of an epic triumph--and what their experiences can teach us about competition, life, and the human spirit.

Every sports fan recalls with amazing accuracy a pivotal winning moment involving a favorite team or player--Henry Aaron hitting his 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth; Christian Laettner's famous buzzer beating shot in the NCAA tournament for Duke. Yet lost are the stories on the other side of these history-making moments, the athletes who experienced not transcendent glory but crushing disappointment: the cornerback who missed the tackle on the big touchdown; the relief pitcher who lost the series; the world-record holding Olympian who fell on the ice.

In Losing Isn't Everything, famed sportscaster Curt Menefee, joined by bestselling writer Michael Arkush, examines a range of signature "disappointments" from the wide world of sports, interviewing the subject at the heart of each loss and uncovering what it means--months, years, or decades later--to be associated with failure. While history is written by the victorious, Menefee argues that these moments when an athlete has fallen short are equally valuable to sports history, offering deep insights into the individuals who suffered them and about humanity itself.

Telling the losing stories behind such famous moments as the Patriots' Rodney Harrison guarding the Giants' David Tyree during the "Helmet Catch" in Super Bowl XLII, Mary Decker's fall in the 1984 Olympic 1500m, and Craig Ehlo who gave up "The Shot" to Michael Jordan in the 1989 NBA playoffs, Menefee examines the legacy of the hardest loses, revealing the unique path that athletes have to walk after they lose on their sport's biggest stage. Shedding new light some of the most accepted scapegoat stories in the sports cannon, he also revisits both the Baltimore Colts' loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III, as well as the Red Sox loss in the 1986 World Series, showing why, despite years of humiliation, it might not be all Bill Buckner's fault.

Illustrated with sixteen pages of color photos, this considered and compassionate study offers invaluable lessons about pain, resilience, disappointment, remorse, and acceptance that can help us look at our lives and ourselves in a profound new way.

This item is Non-Returnable.

  • ISBN-13: 9780062440075
  • ISBN-10: 0062440071
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books
  • Publish Date: November 2016
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Sports & Recreation > History
Books > Sports & Recreation > Essays

BookPage Reviews

Cheer on the holiday with sports heroes

This holiday season’s essential sports volumes offer a feast of biography and history, ranging from the fairways of the PGA and the ice palaces of the NHL to the fields of pro football, international soccer and beyond.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer passed away in September. Fortunately, the ever-popular Palmer had just completed his own personal memory book, A Life Well Played, in which he affectionately recalls the people, places and things he cherished most in his eventful 87 years. Palmer had his fingers in everything, it seems, from business ventures (car dealerships, golf course design) to media (Golf Channel) to charity work and endless endorsement deals spanning golf equipment to the famous iced-tea-and-lemonade drink that bears his name. Among many other favorite topics, Palmer discusses his native Pennsylvania, his positive career-long relationship with the press, the “Arnie’s Army” that followed him on the golf course in his playing days, his heroes (Dwight Eisenhower, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, his dad) and his 45-year marriage to his beloved first wife, Winnie. Eminently readable and delightfully Arnie, A Life Well Played is a must for any of his many admirers.

Olympic and World Cup soccer star Carli Lloyd has absorbed some deep professional and personal wounds along the road to establishing her champion’s persona. In When Nobody Was Watching, 34-year-old Lloyd frankly lays out her life and career, from her middle-class New Jersey origins to her ascent to the international stage, while pulling no punches in assessing soccer team dynamics, her various coaches and the sometimes political nature of relationships within the sport. Paramount among Lloyd’s more serious concerns is her longtime rift with her parents, the result of disagreements over her management. “To become the soccer player I am, I had to grow up, become my own person, and make my own decisions about what to do on the field and in life,” Lloyd writes. Through it all, Lloyd has achieved global recognition and earned acclaim as the first person ever to score a hat trick (three goals) in a FIFA Women’s World Cup final. Lloyd reserves special words in her memoir for her longtime trainer and mentor, James Galanis, and her lifelong best friend and fiancé, Brian Hollins.

Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky’s long career saw him establish astonishing statistical marks and win four Stanley Cup titles. With 99: Stories of the Game, “The Great One” gives us a wide-lens journey through hockey history. Gretzky’s number was, of course, 99 during his playing days, but the current 2016-17 season is also the 99th anniversary of the NHL. The coverage here focuses mostly on the development of the pro leagues, the founding of legendary teams and the importance of individual players (Esposito, Lemieux, Clarke, Orr, Parent, Hull, etc.). On a more personal level, he opines on the future of violence in the game and also provides sidebars on the realities of a long hockey career and the inevitability of retirement. Poignantly, Gretzky pays special homage to the original great one himself, Gordie Howe, who passed away earlier this year.

Jeff Pearlman, known for his controversial 2011 book, Sweetness, about the late football great Walter Payton, now presents Gunslinger, his biography of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. While Pearlman ably accounts for Favre’s supremacy on the gridiron, his assessment of the private Favre is less than flattering, depicting a good-ol’-boy prone to drinking and practical jokes, not to mention a history of painkiller abuse and infidelity. Some of the more interesting topics covered include Favre’s college victory over Alabama as signal caller for Southern Mississippi, his early pro career with the Atlanta Falcons and his later success leading the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory. From there, Pearlman reports on Favre’s difficult retirement and his last seasons quarterbacking the Jets and Vikings. While Favre’s high place in football history is forever guaranteed based on the numbers, Pearlman’s account might be a somewhat troubling read for his subject’s more devoted fans.

Noted FOX Sports broadcaster Curt Menefee has teamed up with sportswriter Michael Arkush to produce Losing Isn’t Everything, a collection of profiles of athletes whose careers—and sometimes, later lives—were marked by challenges, disappointments and the search for the fortitude necessary to carry on. The 15 “Where are they now?” chapters focus on folks such as Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi, loser of both Games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series; tennis player Aaron Krickstein, whose otherwise respectable career is overshadowed by a famous five-set match he lost to a combative, aging Jimmy Connors at the 1991 U.S. Open; world-class runner Mary Decker, whose considerable achievements were marred by controversy and a devastating fall; and golfer Jean van de Velde, whose startling and unreal meltdown at the 18th hole in the final round of the 1999 British Open has pretty much become the gold standard for professional sports ineptitude. Menefee’s eloquent introduction on the nature of winning and losing sets the reader up nicely for this appreciative and refreshingly different take on the games we follow so intently and the flesh-and-blood, fallible humans who dare to compete—then must face their demons, even when their playing days are over.


This article was originally published in the December 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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