Knowing How To Lose

Source: Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro

When I was in the popular [trans. note: part of the stands that are used by the supporters] in Racing´s field for the triangular [trans. note: three teams usually competing to be in the tournament final] match against Boca in December 2008, I was very angry and upset at the end of the match, like all the Ciclón supporters. Losing that match was the last straw, after a tournament full of referees' injustices that seemed to favor Boca time and again, the frustrations because of AFA and the mobster Grondona for that strange draw they many things, so much rage. I thought about the match I´d seen in Rosario, where Ogro had made the tie possible for Newell´s... that if we had won that match, we would have been champions, if this and that had turned out differently... The 8 lead points regarding the Bosteros we had wasted... I had arrived with my son that same day from New York - the first time he´d been in Argentina. Henry already liked San Lorenzo because I had told and shown him everything I knew about CASLA. He had watched matches with me on the TV and the laptop. He saw and celebrated the incredible cup tournament against River where Bergessio played like a poisoned god and we achieved that historic comeback. He had also seen how sometimes I would remain silent and depressed for days after defeats. He knows I never stop thinking of San Lorenzo, talking about San Lorenzo. Since his childhood, I have given him shirts, stickers, key-rings and anything from CASLA, as I have done with my nephews and the sons and daughters of friends in the States and other countries. Henry grew up witnessing what the madness and love for San Lorenzo are. What he said to me at the end of the 2008 triangular match, seeing how the Cuervos kept on singing and crying, applauding our players when they said goodbye, was the following:

"Dad, I´ve always liked San Lorenzo because you are for San Lorenzo. If they had won against Boca today and become champions, it would have been beautiful. I always want San Lorenzo to win, because I like to see you happy. Now that I´m here with you and see how they keep on singing after losing, I not only like San Lorenzo - I´m for San Lorenzo. Now I understand, dad."

I gave him a kiss, and I remained silent. It was beautiful. It was worth the journey, it was worth losing and having to bear it. To have a son capable of saying something so nice, so elegant, made me feel proud as a father and as a Cuervo. Of course, as we came out of the stadium, a journalist asked what I was going to do after the defeat; I got a bit annoyed and told him, "I´m going with my son straight to the corner of San Juan and Boedo to see if they stole the lamp posts from us as well." But I didn´t beat him up or bad-mouth him. I´m not saying I haven´t behaved badly sometimes, but I recognize that dignity (and sometimes a witty remark if possible) for misunderstandings and bad moments in soccer and in life are always preferable to physical or verbal violence. I don´t always achieve it, but, whatever happens, I want to be a noble Cuervo. So when we come up champions again, I will deserve feeling proud as a supporter even more.

You have to know how to lose with dignity. That´s what the greatest do, and it´s much more important (difficult) than winning with dignity. Some of our players didn´t know how to do that against Boca Juniors, in the clásico played March 4 on our field, nor did some of our supporter brothers. It doesn´t matter if some rivals and their supporters are provoking or behave badly. We have to be greater than them, nicer and more intelligent. We have to alway give the best example to our child [trans. note: Boca is the "child" of San Lorenzo]. One can always let off steam without giving in to violence which only demonstrates insecurity and a bad loser´s lack of courage. What happened to our famous endurance? Sometimes that´s what it´s all about, enduring the bad scores, the bad luck. We lost. Although they didn´t play very well - almost as badly as we did - we have to admit that Boca deserved to win. That´s what there is in lean times. We had our chances, but things didn´t turn out for us as we would have liked.

I was furious, very depressed. I watched the match on my laptop, in the restaurant of a gas station near Boston, USA. People were staring at me, sitting there with my San Lorenzo shirt, behaving like a crazy man, talking to the little screen, shouting at the players. What is that idiot doing crying and bad-mouthing his laptop in Spanish? Of course they didn´t understand a thing. I wanted to break things, I wanted to shout at someone, I wanted to fight. But I didn´t do it. Just after the goal by Mouche 86 minutes into the match, a six or seven year old child passed by my table. He was wearing a blue and yellow jacket, and I must have looked at him with a combination of incredulity and total anger because he got scared and ran off to sit down with his parents who were eating hamburgers on the other side of the restaurant. He started crying, pointing at me. I don´t know what he told them, but the parents looked at me as if they wanted to kill me. Nothing happened, but I realised how stupid it had been to look at that poor child that way just because he was wearing the colours of the Bosteros [trans. note: Boca Juniors] Obviously that family doesn´t know what San Lorenzo or Boca Juniors are. But if I could have been at our field, suffering through the match instead of watching it in that far away place and out of the clásico context, I probably would have caught the Cuervo fury. I don´t know if I would have quarrelled with someone, done ugly things. If I had done them, I would now feel ashamed.

In good and bad times, wherever you go, Matador, I will always be with you. There´s no other team like ours. There are no supporters in the world like ours. We know euphoria and we know pain. We know how to win, and we know how to lose. There´s nothing bigger and more noble than the Cuervo heart. We´ll also come out of this one, and those who understand will respect us.

Last edited: 18 May 2012 11:11:41
© Viggo Mortensen/Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro.