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

Notes:

  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)

Don’t Tell Yer Trouble to Others. Most of ‘Em Don’t Care a Hang; an’ the Rest Are Damn Glad of It

Robert Haven Schauffler? Nantucket Sea Captain? Rita P.? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Whenever I am tempted to complain about a setback in my life I recollect a wry piece of advice. Here are two versions:

  1. Never tell people your troubles. Half of them don’t care and the other half will be glad it happened to you.
  2. Don’t harangue people with your troubles. Most of your listeners aren’t interested, and the rest are happy you’re finally getting what’s coming to you.

Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest full match located by QI appeared in the 1939 self-help book of the popular author Robert Haven Schauffler titled “Enjoy Living: An Invitation to Happiness”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Be careful how you outshine even your intimates in conversation or anything else, or load your griefs and worries upon their shoulders. “If you want enemies,” said la Rochefoucauld,”excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.” “Don’t tell yer trouble to others,” a Nantucket sea-captain advised me. “Most of ’em don’t care a hang; an’ the rest are damn glad of it.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading Don’t Tell Yer Trouble to Others. Most of ‘Em Don’t Care a Hang; an’ the Rest Are Damn Glad of It

Notes:

  1. 1939, Enjoy Living: An Invitation to Happiness by Robert Haven Schauffler, Chapter 19: Getting Along with People, Start Page 243, Quote Page 249, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York. (Verified on paper)