4 The Late Show

Keady isn’t quite sure how he developed such a pure, blinding hatred for losing. He’s thought about it often, and can only come up with the fact he tasted defeat so frequently early in his athletic career, on his junior high and high school teams, that the feeling became ingrained. No doubt his classic Irish temperament and his tendency toward high blood pressure enter into the formula as well.

His is a controlled fury. Beyond shouting, and perhaps kicking or throwing something behind closed doors, he never lets his emotions stray too far from sanity. But losing brings such a deep, personal invasion of his pride that it temporarily dominates his very being. The morning after a defeat, he wakes up with an overwhelming sensation that something terrible has happened. And then, after the cobwebs have cleared, he remembers: oh yeah, we lost. The feeling generally lasts until the next victory comes along to wash it away.

The players know the first few practices after a loss—particularly one at home—are sure to be more intense. And if the loss happened to come by a wide margin, or to a clearly inferior team, the first of those practices might take place only a few hours after the game, in a special midnight edition. (1)