Victor mentality can promote arrogance in athletics, players

I don’t really think I can root for Linfield sports anymore.

Let me clarify. I have no desire to cheer for the teams, but I’m not actively rooting against them. See, athletics is a pretty big deal here. Too big, truth be told. Success isn’t expected here; it’s mandatory. And that has made the school into a powerhouse, knocking off opponents with ease. Even the struggling teams here are hanging around in the middle of the standings, not in the cellar.

Everybody loves an under-dog. Watching the team that nobody wrote in as the victor climb up and snatch victory from the clutches of the favored team is one of the more enjoyable experiences in sports. So why would I want to root for that favored team, that team that everyone knows is going the whole way and keeps telling the world why they’re the best?

Winning repeatedly isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But the mentality that arises among victors can only be described by one word: arrogance. Remember how everyone loved the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and now they’ve become the most annoying franchise in Major League Baseball?

Winning is great and all, but it comes with a price. There’s an aura of superiority among the athletes on this campus that should be concerning.

But it isn’t. Sports here are so untouchable, it’s insane. Criticism of teams is met with anger and derision by the conglomerated athletic body. Linfield is overdriven by sports, and it shows, repeatedly, by the neglect and lack of respect that other areas of the college receive.

I’ve learned two things from athletes here: Sports are more important than whatever I’m doing, and Linfield is amazing at every sport. The first thing is a mentality that is sadly shared by numerous individuals here. The second is something that should be said through action, not through the mouths of those playing.

I can’t root for these teams. They’re every team I’ve ever hated, built as an unrelenting dynasty that makes its way by being great and sharing it with the world over and over. We’re Goliath. And I can’t root for Goliath. I think it’s worth noting that hubris is what finally brought Goliath down.

When it’s all about winning — and it is, even if it’s not admitted — the idea of battling and working toward success drives people to achieve victory. There’s a lot of work, a lot of passion and a lot of strength necessary to get there, but athletes always doing their best because they think they deserve to hold that trophy (or banner, etc.).

Imagine, then, the feeling of euphoria they receive when they finally reach that summit and claim their prize. Now imagine them winning again and again. Eventually, that confidence to make it is replaced by a feeling of entitlement to that success. They almost immediately lose their appeal. Understand where I’m coming from now?
The arrogance from constant success permeates the mind very quickly, and I want no part of it.

Matt Olson/Columnist
Matt Olson can be reached at

5 Comments on Victor mentality can promote arrogance in athletics, players

  1. Ryan Carlson // April 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm //


    Athletics at Linfield ARE a big deal and I’m thankful for that. The athletic programs at Linfield are a key source of drawing prospective students to Linfield and the fact we have programs that are nationally recognized for their performance only strengthens that draw for many prospective students. While some may scoff at that notion just look at our neighbors in Forest Grove and Newberg and ask why they’re adding additional athletic teams.

    My time as a Linfield football player in the mid to late 90’s was a vital time for my growth as a person. It was during my time on the practice field where I learned how to persevere through adversity, work on becoming a better athlete and in turn a better student and friend. My time as a Linfield athletic taught me invaluable life skills that still carry me to this day in my everyday life of providing for my family and being the best husband and father I can be. I’m no perfect person, not by a long shot, but I truly feel I became a better person at Linfield and athletics played a key role in that for me.

    However, I’m not sure what you mean sports at Linfield are untouchable. In the 25 year history of the NWC’s all-sports trophy (rewarded to the top all-around NWC athletic program) Linfield has only walked away with the award 3 times as the top NWC athletic program. If anything, I believe that Linfield still has room to improve and continue to grow and I’m hopeful that the Linfield administration will continue to support the athletics’ department mission of supporting our 19 teams achieve on and off the field.

    Matt, I wish you didn’t feel that way but I’m not going to condemn you for not getting behind Linfield’s athletic teams. That’s a personal decision and I respect that. However, there are over 1,000 students at Linfield that either play a varsity sport or participate in intramural sports. So as an alumnus, I’ll continue to support those working hard that positively represent the college I adore. Go ‘Cats!

    Ryan Carlson
    Class of 1998

  2. Ryan Carlson // April 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm //

    ….excuse the typos from above…I was a little fired up when replying. Regards, RC

  3. Mark Johnson // April 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm //


    What Ryan says is absolutely true. Google the Flutie Effect. Briefly, it is the effect sport teams have on admissions numbers. Increased sports, increased student applications. I am one of those numbers. I never played a sport here but I remember watching the 2004 Linfield football team win the title on ESPN2. That team is one (I repeat one of many) of the reasons I go to Linfield now. Because I wanted to be connected to a proud sports tradition.

    Like it or not, athletic programs are often the litmus test for a successful school. It is the lifeblood of a campus! What do we rally around or rag other NWC friends about if not sports? The business program? The choir? Theater? Nothing against any of those people but RC is right, George Fox and Pacific are looking for what we ALREADY have. The better the sports, the better the recruits. Better recruits, better sports. Better sports, more applicants (Flutie Effect). More applicants, more choice in choosing better students. Following that logic, a better sports program = a better school.

  4. Elise Karscig // April 26, 2011 at 12:09 am //

    Are you aware that most of the money donated to this school to provide you with the programs you have here at Linfield have been donated by those people you call “arrogant”? Most of Linfield alumni who are former athletes have donated to Linfield because of their dedication to success both in the classroom and on the field.

    I’m an athlete, but I’m a “student-athlete”, which mean’s I not only learn in my classes, but I learn life skills from playing a team sport that I haven’t gained in the classroom. I’m not saying that sports are everything in college, because they’re not. Yes, athletes are held to a high standard here at Linfield but what sport team, professional or college isn’t aiming for that success? The reason we are successful is because of hard work and dedication and to call athletes here at Linfield arrogant because our hard work has paid off is a complete insult and I am appalled that a fellow Wildcat would insult over half of the student body.

    I’m sure you have had your share of accomplishments here at Linfield and you should feel entitled to celebrate it. If you can celebrate your success then why can’t Linfield sport teams take pride in their success without being criticized? I fully support all Linfield athletic programs regardless of their standing and respect every team here on campus. I would hope that other students on campus felt the same, and that your lack of support for Linfield athletics is in the minority.

  5. Gilno Engo // April 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm //

    wow I mean, what kind of athletic program does not push its athletes to work hard and win? what’s the point of being a varsity athlete if you’re not going to want to win? That’s where it starts… isn’t it? You believe you can win, work hard and results in a W. If a team always wins, and even better it’s your school’s team, why would you feel like it’s bad?? I don’t get your reasoning. Athletes will become arrogant? no, I wouldn’t say so. they know they work hard for every victory they gain. To you it may seem like it’s just another win, but to them it’s the result of hard work and dedication. Have you seen the time and effort they put into practice? If they were arrogant, and felt entitled to winning, they wouldn’t work as hard as they do. And just so you know, it’s not everybody that loves under-dogs… I actually don’t unless the team/athlete I support happens to be the under-dog. P.S.: Is your opinion on this based on a bad experience you had with an athlete?

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