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Everything’s the Best: On Moral Victories

Trying to find silver linings after a cruel and bitter result.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

There is a romantic vision of sports that I still cling to: that they can serve as a broad metaphor for life. For Americans, baseball provides pretty interesting insight into how we might view labor: there’s an interesting parralel in how the factory line works and how a baseball team relies on the individualized production of each player to build towards a win.

For football, a thing I loved is that one of the deep lessons is that one can but in a shift and work and toil and, for the most part, do all the “right” things and still come away with a level score-line. That, more often than not, teams may fail to push the ball over that goal line. It may seem that I prefer somber or dour experiences but I assure you that’s not it! It’s just that there’s a comfort in seeing this game reflect back some tough truths: that we aren’t always going to succeed, but that the work is still worth doing anyway.

I thought about that a lot when I heard about what was happening during the Liverpool FC vs Spurs match on the weekend. We’ve had some moments of panic with our cardiac kids this season, but we’ve not really had occasion to feel aggrieved. This match, though, really is an extreme version of doing all the right things and still walking away with nothing to show for it. Worse, it’s dropped points during a weekend when our biggest rivals all dropped points. A missed opportunity.

There is, though, one bright spot: the overall performance of the team maintained the fighting spirit and strong mentality we’ve come to count as the standard for this year’s Reds. Had Diaz’s goal counted, it’s possible the team might have seen out a win down two men against a rejuvenated Spurs side.

So seeing this side put together such a spirited fight, even against impossible odds, filled my cup. And thinking of a Klopp side that is shaping up to be quite special also suddenly having real-world fodder to feed the us-vs-them mentality? Whew. I don’t think the league understands what kind of trouble their in when a Klopp team plays with a true chip on its shoulder.

Moral victories are generally dismissed in sport. While I don’t agree, I do understand why that’s the case: you don’t get to fill the point ledger with them.

But a gift in moral victories is that, when used well, they can be the type of thing that you can foist the foundation of a title-winning run on.

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