Man is a gaming animal. He must always be trying to get the better in something or other.
—Charles Lamb (1775–1834) British Essayist, Poet
Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place.
—Vince Lombardi, Jr. (1913–70) American Football Player, Coach
One cannot play chess if one becomes aware of the pieces as living souls and of the fact that the Whites and the Blacks have more in common with each other than with the players. Suddenly one loses all interest in who will be champion.
—Anatol Rapoport (1911–2007) Russian-born American Mathematical Psychologist
So you wish to conquer in the Olympic Games, my friend? And I, too… But first mark the conditions and the consequences. You will have to put yourself under discipline; to eat by rule, to avoid cakes and sweetmeats; to take exercise at the appointed hour whether you like it or not, in cold and heat; to abstain from cold drinks and wine at your will. Then, in the conflict itself you are likely enough to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, to swallow a great deal of dust, to be severely thrashed, and after all of these things, to be defeated.
—Epictetus (55–135) Ancient Greek Philosopher
When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn.
—Tom Landry (1924–2000) American Sportsperson
No wise combatant underestimates their antagonist.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.
—Bob Knight (b.1940) American Basketball Coach
The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is great; but the advantages of this law are also greater still than its cost—for it is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development, which brings improved conditions in its train. But, whether the law be benign or not, we must say of it: It is here; we cannot evade it; no substitutes for it have been found; and while the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.
—Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) Scottish-American Industrialist
After the game the King and pawn go into the same box.
Men often compete with one another until the day they die; comradeship consists of rubbing shoulders jocularly with a competitor.
—Edward Hoagland (b.1932) American Essayist, Novelist
You must play boldly to win.
—Arnold Palmer (b.1929) American Sportsperson
My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.
—Indira Gandhi (1917–84) Indian Head of State
I play golf with friends sometimes, but there are never friendly games.
—Ben Hogan (1912–97) American Golfer
Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.
—Lou Brock (1939–2020) American Baseball Player
Most games are lost, not won.
—Casey Stengel (1890–1975) American Sportsperson
When you fear a foe, fear crushes your strength; and this weakness gives strength to your opponents.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing.
—Jackie Joyner-Kersee (b.1962) American Athlete
What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.
—Satchel Paige (1906–82) American Baseball Player
There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.
The general fact is that the most effective way of utilizing human energy is through an organized rivalry, which by specialization and social control is, at the same time, organized co-operation.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our today, to do our work with more force than ever before.
—Stewart B. Johnson
If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.
—Dean Smith (1931–2015) American Basketball Coach
Competition is what keeps me playing the psychological warfare of matching skill against skill and wit against wit.
—Lou Brock (1939–2020) American Baseball Player
Win or lose, do it fairly.
—Knute Rockne (1888–1931) American College Football Coach
By competition the total amount of supply is increased, and by increase of the supply a competition in the sale ensues, and this enables the consumer to buy at lower rates. Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than that of competition.
—Henry Clay (1777–1852) American Politician
Competition is the whetstone of talent.
Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.
—Wendell Berry (b.1934) American Poet, Novelist, Environmentalist
When you step onto that field, you cannot concede a thing.
—Gale Sayers (1943–2020) American Football Player
Competitions are for horse, not artist.
—Bela Bartok (1881–1945) Hungarian Composer, Ethnomusicologist