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Losers lament at Goat Rock'
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Our society places a high priority on winning. It is a seemingly natural thing to do.

Valdosta, which was the home of a perennial championship football team for many years, used to refer to itself as "Winnersville."

If your team was not victorious, there is not a lot of curb appeal to a place called "Losersville."

The past few days has been a convergence of seasons focused on winning. The Olympic Games, the beginning of football season, the home stretch of baseball season and that old favorite, political season, have all had a share of the headlines.

I’ve watched a fair share of the Olympics and marvel at young people, some of them teenagers, who have worked for years to prepare for their single moment. After all that work, it comes down to one lap, one jump or one shot. In a moment, they will either be immortalized or forgotten.

Nobody ever talks about the person who finished fourth.

As football teams begin practicing, everyone wonders if this will be the year for their beloved team. Lose a few games and they are not so beloved, and fans will start calling for the coach’s head on a platter.

I thought about young men from around the country who were invited over the past three years to play football at Penn State. If they somehow win every game, our fickle society will tarnish it by referring to a dark time that the new coach and players had nothing to do with.

And then there is politics.

There are all kinds of losers in political races. Sometimes, their piety takes them down. The feeling of invincibility has sent many a politician to the ranks of former politicians.

In Hall County, there is a fabled, yet fictional, place called Goat Rock. It is the place that losing politicians go to wallow in their loss.

The late Jake Tolbert is credited with creating Goat Rock. For many years, it was common to hear in the morning-after-election coffee talk that someone was headed to Goat Rock.

Goat Rock will no doubt be a busy place this year. Hall County had a lot of folks who did not come out on the winning side.

I have been involved in politics as both a participant and as a spectator sitting in the cheap seats. You can second guess and analyze to come up with all kinds of reasons someone didn’t win. Some candidates work their hearts out on long days, while others seemingly sit back and coast to victory.

Losing is painful and anybody who says otherwise is lying. It hurts when your kid’s soccer team doesn’t win, and it hurts when you are rejected by the voters.

The late Gov. Marvin Griffin once said after a failed comeback attempt that "A lot of people ate my barbecue that didn’t vote for me."

It starts off like a fun, festive birthday party and after all the celebrating, you find out it wasn’t your birthday and everybody leaves.

If you didn’t win this year, go on out and join the crowd at Goat Rock. You’ll find it on the highway to Mayberry, near the cutoff to Lake Wobegon just before you turn to go to Emerald City.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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