Words to Play By

“For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the Game.” — Grantland Rice

“Grantland Rice can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.” — Gene Autry

“I liked to win, but more than anything, I loved to play the way I wanted to play.”
— Ben Hogan

“I crave action.” — Nancy Drew in The Mystery of the Ivory Charm, written by Mildred Wirt Benson as Carolyn Keene

“Style is the invariable mark of any master; and for the student who does not aspire so high as to be numbered with the giants, it is still the one quality in which he may improve himself at will.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

“A good style should show no sign of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident.” — Somerset Maugham

“Loosen your girdle and let ‘er fly.” — Babe Didrikson Zaharias

“The cardinal virtue (or, if you like, vice) of my life has always been the search for originality. I hate imitation. I hate hackneyed methods. I do not want to wear anyone else’s mask. I want always to be myself.” — Sergei Prokofiev

“Milord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wished to make them better.” — George Frideric Handel

“The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.” — Aristotle Onassis

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” — Sir Cecil Beaton

“There are games I’m going to dominate and some in which I struggle.” — Mia Hamm

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” — Thomas Jefferson

“If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.” — Quentin Crisp

“I’m a great believer in games — war games, intelligence games, political games — because they make you think.” — William Colby, former head of the CIA

“Funeral games would seem to have been, in essence, prophylactic assertions of vitalizing energy in the presence of death.” — The Rev. Samuel G.F. Brandon, in “Death Rites and Customs,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., v.5, p. 537a

“You will find out that there are all sorts of ways of learning, not only from people and books, but from sheer trying… Let no one be discouraged by the thought of how much there is to learn. For the first steps into a delightful unknown, the first successes are victories all the happier for being scarcely expected, and with the growing knowledge comes the widening outlook, and the comforting sense of an ever-increasing gain of critical appreciation. Each new step becomes a little surer and each new grasp a little firmer, till, little by little, comes the power of intelligent combination, the nearest thing we can know to the mighty force of creation.” — Gertrude Jekyll

“Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.” — George Ade

“You feel hot because you’re scoring, it’s not that you’re scoring because your hot.” — Dr. Amos Tversky, discussing the Hot Hand theory.

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.” — Rene Daumal

“André-Louis’ amazing progress lay in the fact that he was devouring the contents of his master’s library… a man with the habit of study, with the acquired facility of learning from books, (he) read these works with enormous profit, kept their precepts in mind, critically set off those of one master against those of another, and made for himself a choice which he proceeded to put into practice.” — Rafael Sabatini, in Scaramouche

“Corbett’s description of his campaign against the man-eaters of the Kumaon Hills shows the qualities that a successful shikari needs… infinite patience, great power of observation, and power not only to notice small signs but also to draw the right inference from those signs. To these must be added great courage.” — From the introduction to Man-Eaters of Kumaon, 1946

“It is defeat that runs bone to flint, and gristle to muscle, and makes people invincible, and forms those heroic natures that are now in ascendancy in the world. Do not be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.” –Henry Ward Beecher

“Must I lose to these idiots?!” — Aron Nimzovich, chess master leaping on a table at a blitz tournament shortly after World War I

“People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.” — La Rochefoucauld

“When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anybody deliberately… unless it was, you know, like a league game or something.” — Dick Butkus

“It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.” — Sam Levenson

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“The one certain thing was that death never came at an expected moment.” — George Orwell in 1984

“Only in retrospect does death appear to have been inevitable.” — Joyce Carol Oates, On Boxing

“My right-hand neighbor was a little red-haired cobbler with one leg shorter than the other, who used to announce the death of any other patient (this happened a number of times, and my neighbor was always the first to hear of it) by whistling to me, exclaiming “Numero 43!” (or whatever it was) and flinging his arms above his head.” ­ George Orwell, in “How the Poor Die,” notes from a hospital stay in Paris, 1929, reprinted in The Grim Reader (Anchor Books, 1997).

“Never make predictions, especially about the future.” — Casey Stengel

“That which we achieve too easily, we esteem too lightly.” — Thomas Paine

“If you race merely for the tributes from others, you will be at the mercy of their expectations.” — Scott Tinley

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” — William Faulkner

“A certain amount of opposition can be of great help to a man – Kites rise against, not with the wind.” — John Neal

“Trample the weak. Hurdle the dead.” — Unknown

“The desire to win is born in most of us. The will to win is a matter of training. The manner of winning is a matter of honour.” — Margaret Thatcher

“Life is the greatest game of all. Play it with courage, wisdom, and loyalty.” — Inscription on West Point memorial to Richard Sheridan, a cadet who broke his neck while making a tackle in a game against Yale, 1931

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Let’s not pout, gentlemen. It makes bad notes.” — Duke Ellington

“I want to one day maybe be really good.” — Carrisa Moore, 12-year-old surfer who has already won three national amateur championships, and defeated the defending world champion; she could not join the pro tour until she turned 18


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