Confession of a Poor Sport

Hi. My name is Kate and I’m a Poor Sport. I don’t think there is a twelve step program for people like me, but I’m writing today to come clean and admit this character default.

What prompted this confession? Well, when my son Chris was home he suggested that we could play Words with Friends together after he returned to Australia. Since I am happy for any reason to connect with my darling boy, I agreed. Before I knew it, we were on the virtual Scrabble board together and at the same time, I had also agreed to a request to play from my friend Ann.

Now I remember why I stopped playing Scrabble.

Well, YES . . . as a matter of fact
Well, YES . . . as a matter of fact

While I would not go so far as to call myself a Wordsmith, I obviously love writing or I wouldn’t be doing this. You may find an error now and then, but I’m pretty anal about spelling and grammar. Always have been. I also have a talent for spelling (not infallible, but better than many), which I feel is a genetic gift. My grandmother was a proof reader! And during the years I wrote for “Beverage Industry” magazine with three adorable guys (best job I ever had!), they quickly learned that they could slack off and leave the editing to me, the natural-born Grammar Nazi.

As a consequence, their stories were all as clean as the proverbial whistle while my own copy occasionally squeaked by with stupid typos and other errors. As any writer will tell you, it’s infinitely easier to edit someone else’s copy than your own.

When I played Scrabble as a kid and young adult, I won a lot. I had/have a decent vocabulary and would rearrange the tiles on the holder, searching for the longest possible word to put on the board. At some point the Scrabble Dictionary (at which I SCOFF) came into existence and changed the game.

Scrabble was no longer solely about knowing vocabulary and trying to strategically place words across the double or triple word squares. You also had to memorize what I think of as “non-words” that became acceptable for Scrabble, but NOT acceptable in normal speech and writing.

I refused to learn non-words and found myself stomping away from games in a Poor Sport huff when Scrabble-savvy players racked up points with non-words like “qat.” (Really, Chris? Really?)

So I decided that I will finish these games with smarty pants Chris and Ann and them I am DONE. By the way, I even Googled one word and it came up as “a word accepted by Words With Friends but that has no definition.” How can a word without a definition be a word? (Really, Ann? Really?)

Oh, I am SUCH a Poor Sport.

Nice grandma plays Go Fish with a smile. I don't think I'll be permitted to play cards with my grandchildren. Ever.
Nice grandma plays Go Fish with a smile. I don’t think I’ll be permitted to play cards with my grandchildren. Ever.

And it doesn’t end there. I finally had to stop playing card games a couple of years ago. When you play any card game, from the intricacies of bridge to playing “Go Fish” with your pre-school nephew, there’s an element called Luck that is completely independent from any skill you may have  nurtured with any given game. You can be freaking Omar Sharif playing world-class contract bridge but if you don’t get a decent hand, there’s only so much skill can do for you.

I had to give up learning to play golf back in the early 90’s, too. The problem was that as a single mom with a demanding job, I didn’t have the time or money to play more than once a week. And here’s the thing about golf:  if you don’t play frequently, you just aren’t going to get any better at the game. That means playing a round of golf, oh, probably at least three times a week during the short Ohio golfing season – at least while you’re learning and trying to improve your basic game.

So the one time a week I’d play in a nine-hole evening league with people from work, it was almost like starting over again each time. People were inevitably kind and encouraging, but as I would 10-putt a hole, the steam would be rolling out of my ears and if I were able to grit my teeth any tighter, I could probably have converted coal to diamonds.

Interesting to note that if you look up images for Angry Woman Golfer, nothing comes up that looks remotely angry. So that made me the only female Poor Sport golfer?
Interesting to note that if you look up images for Angry Woman Golfer, nothing comes up that looks remotely angry. So that made me the only female Poor Sport golfer?

It. Was. Not. Fun. In fact, it was embarrassing and frustrating and I got to the point where I was practically snarling (inside) before I even approached the first tee. I had to bite my tongue as friends made well-meaning suggestions about keeping my head down or changing my stance. It was all I could do to avoid snapping, SHUT THE HELL UP.

I wish I could be like my sister-in-law, Donna. Donna truly sucks at playing golf and simply DOES NOT CARE. She laughs and enjoys the sunshine and has a jolly old time out on the course. Now, that’s how people should play all games. I get that.

But I just can’t do it.

It’s not that I always have to win, but I have to feel I have as good a chance as anyone at winning and that if I try really hard, I actually COULD win. I don’t want to be at the mercy of “bad cards” or a tray full of one point vowels.

Bowling. Yet another sport to suck at.
Bowling. Yet another sport to suck at.


So dear ones, don’t invite me to play Words with Friends or Candy Crush. Don’t ask me over to play Bunko or Pinochle. Count me out on bowling night. Don’t call to see if I’m interested in a game of Pictionary with the family.

I’m Kate, and I’m a Poor Sport. Don’t invite me to play anything  with you . . . unless you want me to come over and kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit.

(insert smiley face here)

7 thoughts on “Confession of a Poor Sport

  1. Loved this Kate! I can relate in many ways. While I do play Words with friends, I hate when I have no words to play and lousy letters. I have had similar defeating experiences with golf and skiing. If I don’t stand a chance at being even a little competitive I don’t want to subject myself to constant failure!


    Sent from my iPad


    1. And Angela, you are one of the most gracious people I know! I guess part of what makes me a poor sport is that I’m so transparent. Just glad to know that really, really NICE people can be aggravated by these things, too! 🙂

  2. The bowling picture threw me off! Thought this was by someone else. Thrilled to be mentioned in one of your blogs : – ). What passes for correct words is truly amazing.

    1. Ann, you are a good sport! And I’m not sure if it’s WordPress or Facebook that does the choosing, but one of them seems to randomly pull a photo from whatever I write about. Their choice of the bowler made me laugh. Talk about being HORRIBLE at something! 🙂

    1. Mary, I really think it’s a gift like any other. It certainly isn’t an indication of intelligence (or lack of it)!

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