How to Lose Without Feeling Any Pain; Why People Bet On Soccer


“Hope” is the thing with feathers. That perches in the soul. And sings the tune without the words. And never stops – at all.” -Emily Dickinson

I’m a football fan. A huge one as such. I believe and have always believed football follows no logic. Yesterday’s winner is today’s loser. That’s how soccer goes.

You can’t win everyday. You can’t lose everyday. When you’ll lose or win your next game, it’s usually not known. It’s such an unforgiven sport. Any little mistake, then you go home the loser.

It therefore intrigues my mind how someone will believe his convictions so much so that he’ll put his money on an outcome not so certain. As a friend once told me; in this game you can’t be so certain but you can be lucky.

It’s a chance we take. Somedays luck look our way and we become the winners. Somedays we become miserable by the odds we didn’t take. That’s the essence of the betting game.

So one match day, I walked to one of the betting centers to meet this friend of mine. I watched him with excitement as he selected the matches he was betting on. He carefully  picked his odds looking at the history and form guard of the teams involved.

Then he turned to me and said; “If I’m lucky today, I will walk home a millionaire”. Then I asked; what if you’re not? Then he said; “there’s always another game.”

There is Always Another Game

No one wants to lose. No one wants to lose at anything especially when it has to do with money. Martin doesn’t have a lot of money. All he has are his dreams. He believes his dreams will one day come true when he gets some winnings from his betting activities.

When he lose, he picks himself up and goes home believing there’s always going to be another—another game until one day he wins.

He said; At first when you lose, it feels so bad. When you lose 3 or four times, you feel like you should quit. You feel like there’s nothing in there for you. You want to walk away but then another game plays on and you feel that is it—that is the match to make your dreams come true.

You keep going and going till losing become part of the game. You become numb to losing because the game never stops. There’s always one more game going on. There is always another opportunity to try your luck.

Risk Something, Sometimes.

He said; you have to risk something in life. You have to put something out to be able to get something in. If you want to catch a fish, you should be able to risk a worm. I thought that was inspirational.

I’ve always heard about risk taking and how one has to be measured when it comes to the type of risk.  I’m not a huge fun of risk. It’s everything I wish I could avoid. I want to have a life that’s risk free as possible.

But that’s not what Martin thinks. He thinks risk is more fun and without it, life will be flat. He told me about a Chinese proverb that says “pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”

Diving is risky, he said. You have to go with the current. You get your skin soaked. You don’t know where the pearl is, you just have to swim hoping it will be where you’re swimming towards.

You only win when you have pearls in hand. You will only win when you are ready to lose sight of the shore. That’s where the risk is. If you let the risk intimidates you, you lose. In this game, if you are not ready to lose some money once in a while, you can’t win.

You Can Lose Sometimes. Not Always

Three games down. One more game for Martin to win his stakes  for the day. The game seemed to be going on so slowly. He couldn’t wait. He is just a game away to realize a big win. He couldn’t sit still. Every kick of the ball, every tackle, every foul play, every single second of the game got on his emotions.

As if he had control of what’s happening on the pitch, he would throw legs about as if he’s playing. He would scream at players to do this or that. Every call the referee would make either gets him angry or gets him screaming. He was virtually consumed in the game. Then he turned to me and said; we are not far away from winning this bet. Also, we are not far from losing it. This is where it gets tricky. All we need is luck.

Luck? I asked. All this while it’s been luck? How do you bet on luck? Something that you have no control over?

Then he answered; It’s called luck. It happens by chance. But then you don’t know when it’s your chance to shine. You have to bet on something–something to enhance your chances of winning through luck. “Winning through luck can’t be a bad thing can it?” he asked. I only nodded.

You Have to Know What You Can Take Away

Happiness and unhappiness are results of our own expectations. If you know what you can take away at the end of the game, then you wouldn’t be disappointed however the outcome. What you always can take away are only two; You either win or you learn from a loss.

Today was one of the days Martin had to learn from a bitter loss. It was only a game away from a huge win. A win that could probably have turned his life around. He might have not been an overnight richest person alive but his life would have been different from how it is now.

He lost. He lost the bet and had to walk home with nothing just like yesterday, the day before yesterday and the day before that.

He was very calm. As if he wasn’t the one who was so close to a win. As if he wasn’t the one who just lost that huge sum. I asked; Don’t you feel any pain? He said; There were two things I could take away from the bet. This is one of them. My only pain is that I expected too much during the end of the game.

I’m always awed by the strength of this my friend. To lose without showing pain felt like a new art to me. To trust and to try your luck on something that’s illogical as football felt like a dark art of magic. I felt like I was being tutored in new ways of risk taking—and this made me question all the risk I haven’t taken in life.

So this time, I’m giving my all so I can risk something. It might not necessarily be at the betting or gambling table. I’m ready now to risk a worm. Who knows, I might be pulling a whale to shore. Then I will be able to have my diner served with grilled spicy whale meat.


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