DR. WALLACE: I play Little League Baseball, and we don't win very often. I get mad if I make an error or strike out. My grandmother says that I should not be a bad loser and I should be a good one instead.
I find it difficult to feel good when we lose and I didn't play too well. How can I feel good when we lose? — Baseball player, Riverside, California
BASEBALL PLAYER: All athletes who have the competitive drive to win have had difficulty being a good loser. I definitely wasn't a good loser when I was a varsity high school basketball coach. I never felt good when our team was defeated. I always shook the hand of the winning coach, but that, too, didn't make me feel especially good. But I did want to set a good example for my players and show respect to the opposing coach.
Recently, I attended a fundraiser dinner for a local youth athletic club. The speaker was a former assistant basketball coach at Indiana University. He spoke on sportsmanship and said that a good loser hugs the opposing players at a game's end but feels good about having played as hard as possible. The bad loser, in defeat, puts blame for the loss on the referee, the coach, the hostile crowd, a teammate but never on himself or herself. The third category is a "hard" loser, who hates losing and works diligently to improve game skills, seeking to become a better player. He or she is every coach's dream and earns the respect of teammates with this type of drive and commitment to the sport.
So, when your grandmother tells you to be a good loser, she really means for you to be a good sport whether you win or lose, and that is good advice! Tell her you will always be a good sport regardless of the outcome of the game, but that you will always be a hard loser because they are really winners in waiting and in actions.
IS MY GED TEST VALID?
DR. WALLACE: I had family problems at home last year and dropped out of school in the middle of the year. I was 18 and a senior. I had good grades and wanted to start college in the fall, but now my graduating class has graduated without me. I've since taken and passed the GED test and was given a high school diploma.
I don't consider the GED diploma the same as a regular diploma, and I'm wondering if it is accepted as part of my college entrance requirements. I still want to get a college degree, so I can get a good job in the future. — Ricardo, Fullerton, California
RICARDO: Even a normal high school diploma is not a guarantee for college or university admission. But the general equivalency diploma is considered the equivalent of a high school diploma and qualifies you for admission to a college or university if, after you interview and complete testing, you're found to have the academic ability to complete the school's requirements.
There are several community colleges (Santa Ana College, Golden West College, Orange Coast College) near where you live. Make sure you talk to a counselor from at least one of the schools to see if a community college is best for you right now.
Two years at a community college and two years at a four-year college or university will meet your ultimate goal and is likely achievable for you given your history of earning good grades in the past.
Don't be embarrassed because your high school diploma is a GED diploma. You're in good company. Many successful current professionals have earned GEDs while serving in the military, for example. Many entered a university after serving their country and eventually earned a quality college education. If it's good enough for our valued veterans, I say it will serve you well, too. Check in with those counselors, and I wish you good luck in your educational pursuits, Ricardo.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.