I have noted at times that the fans of many teams have an entitlement mentality. They expect to win simply because they expect it. None of them are coaching, or playing, or fundraising, or bankrolling; perhaps they buy tickets, but most simply pay for a cable service. But they firmly believe they are entitled to a win, and to bragging rights.
At the same time, I know of several times that personnel at our local university worked for years on something, be it sports, academics, or facilities, and after it’s successful, supporters of some other university will insist, “That should be at our school.”
There is no good answer to those, because the claims are completely illogical. It is simply an entitlement mentality. Too many people think it is their birthright to win, to dominate, and to have it all.
Which leads to not only a large level of obnoxiousness, it also dooms us to personal unhappiness. We cannot be happy without gratitude and humility. That’s not immediately obvious, but to truly enjoy something, including our lives, requires a bittersweet realization: nothing is guaranteed. We could have been born in the slums Kampala. We could have suffered an injury or a birth defect that would keep us from succeeding in so many areas of life. Or we could be dead: probably everyone can remember several near misses.
Or, someone we love deeply could be dead, and leave us as permanent emotional cripples.
Every parent’s greatest fear is that we might lose a child. The sad news is we do, every night. The child who wakes up in the morning is not the child we put to bed the night before. And all of us who have enjoyed parenthood live with an inescapable poignancy: our children grow up. These amazing, vibrant, funny, beautiful little people who have been miraculously dropped into our lives, will mature and move on. They may be fine, impressive young men and women; but our babies, our toddlers, those children who held our hands when we crossed the road, the kids who ran to the door to hug us when we came in… they’re gone.
And we will never see them again.
If we can realize from the beginning, that not only is childhood not permanent or guaranteed, nor is life, nor winning the game; if we can see that it is inevitable that they will all pass away; only then can we become humble, and grateful. Once we reject the entitlement mentality and embrace humility, we squeeze what joy, even if only temporary, there is out of the situation.
To be truly joyful means to realize where we are, and what we have today, are not guaranteed, and that an entitlement mentality is useless… simply because there is no entitlement. There are no guarantees. Once we realize that nothing is permanent, then we can slow down, pay attention, and be joyful for what we do have, or even have had. It is only in gratitude that we can be happy; and since to be grateful we must first be humble, then we can see that we must reject entitlement.
Winning is exciting, but it is not fulfilling. Fulfillment comes only with humility.
This gloating when we win, this whining when we don’t, they destroy happiness. A guy said to me once, “Most fans are nothing of the sort. They are not fans of the school, the team, or the players. They just want to win.”
Correction: they expect to win. They suffer from an entitlement mentality.
And that is a shame.