The Will to Win Is Different than Wanting to Win

If we were to play a word association game with the word “sports,” I have a feeling that, for most people, the term conjures up lots of thoughts and feelings surrounding things like competition, skill, physical excellence and the quest for victory.

Considering that the basic foundation of just about any sport is the idea of individual athletes or teams competing against each other, it would be pretty easy to think that winning or losing are the key elements of sports. But is that all there is to it?

Vince Lombardi, former coach of the Green Bay Packers, is often remembered for the quote, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” There is some debate as to whether he was the first to say that or whether he even said it at all. Later in life, Lombardi himself distanced himself from the quote and liked to clarify that what he said or meant to say was, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is the only thing.”

That is a big difference, and I think Lombardi’s revision gets much closer to the heart of what sports is really about. Sports is more than just a physical contest. Champions in any sport will tell you they got to the top of their game by focusing, not just on their physical performance, but on their mental, emotional and spiritual performance, as well. Wanting to win is one thing. But what Lombardi described as the will to win means putting your whole self into doing the very best you can in everything you do, each and every day.

For this issue of Triangle Sports, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with PGA golfer Webb Simpson. In the profile, Simpson shares some of things he has learned on the path to success. What stuck most with me was the fact that one of his coaches told him not to get hung up on individual wins and losses. As long as you are always improving, the wins will come.

And for Simpson, they certainly have. He won the U.S. Open in 2012 and the Players Championship in 2018. He has a wonderful family and a faith that keeps him centered. He lives by his coach’s advice to this day. If you’ve learned something and are better this week than last week, you are on the right path.

I think what is so elegant about that philosophy is that it applies equally well to sports as it does to other things in life. If we all focus on doing our best, with an eye toward improving and doing a little better every day, the wins will come. Whether on the field, the court, the course, or in our families, friendships, jobs or everyday lives, the wins will come.

As always, this issue is packed with stories of folks working hard and doing their best to excel at what they love. The Athletes in Action section is a showcase of teams and individuals in the Triangle who have the will to win and leave it all on the field. I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I do.

Please enjoy the issue and, as always, please share your stories with us! If you or someone you know has a sports story to share, please email me at

About Jim Schneider 16 Articles
Jim Schneider is editorial director of Triangle Sports.

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