A Good Loser Is No Good

Robert Zuppke? Red Grange? Harry Gaspar? Robert Haven Schauffler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Traditionally, displaying good sportsmanship and being a gracious loser has been extolled. Yet, a harsher and more controversial perspective has inspired an acerbic family of mottoes. Here are three examples:

  • A good loser is no good.
  • A good loser is a perennial loser.
  • A good loser is still a loser.

Would you please explore the history of the first saying?

Quote Investigator: In 1924 a newspaper in Santa Ana, California discussed prominent sports figure Robert Zuppke who won multiple national championships while he was the football coach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The newspaper reprinted quotations from Zuppke that originally appeared in a magazine article. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

In the Nov. 8 issue of Liberty, Zuppke speaks his mind in part as follows:

“When I say that a good loser is no good I am merely making a statement that every American, whether in sport or in business, knows is true if he will stop and think. It is not commendable or desirable to be a good loser.”

Coach Zuppke further elaborated on the topic; he wanted intense efforts from his players:

“It is my experience that all quitters are good losers. The right kind of player must have a fear and horror of losing. If he hasn’t he will not tap his reserve energy in a game.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Good Loser Is No Good


  1. 1924 November 6, Santa Ana Register, Section 3: Sporting News, West Winds: Here and There in Local Sports by Eddie West, Quote Page 17, Column 3, Santa Ana, California. (Newspapers_com)