State high school basketball tournament reminds us: Losing isn’t fun

Guess which kids in this picture just lost an important basketball game.

It was a scene repeated all day Saturday at Target Center, at the conclusion of each class tournament game for a state high school basketball title.

After each championship game, the all-tournament team was announced. Then each member of the losing team received its second-place medal, and then the second place trophy.

Nobody smiled on the losing team. Well, practically nobody. The exception was the inspiring Hopkins team manager, Grant Petersen, who smiled and pumped his fist.

True, the players worked hard all season at schools known for their basketball prowess, where expectations are high, where losing — even at the end of the road — isn’t met with a smile, no matter how grateful you are to be there in the first place while representing your school. But you do represent your school.

The games were outstanding and the kids on all the teams expended a tremendous effort, rarely seen on the basketball court at Target Center anymore. It was a great tournament.

So when a few Hopkins kids covered their faces with their jerseys when it was over, when they accepted the second-place trophy and regarded it like the bag of litter at the end of lunch at a fast-food joint, it was understandable. It’s just the way humans are. They’ll get over the loss, but a smile is an unrealistic expectation to have of any young person in the immediate aftermath of the struggle.

Reacting to the loss didn’t make them bad sportsmen. Not like many people said this did:

during the Ice Hockey Women's Gold Medal Game on day 13 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 20, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

The local sports broadcasters didn’t tweet anything about the pouting — or sulking, if that’s what it can be called. There’s no discussion about it, really. So why didn’t they — we — extend that same understanding to women athletes recently?