Winners, Losers and Cheaters: The Joy of Victory vs the Denial of Defeat

November 6-8, 2020

What makes a “good sport”?  Though he didn’t originate the expression, Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  When does the quest to win go over the line and result in cheating, lying, seeking unfair advantage?  It would seem that from an early age, children are taught to value fairness, honor and courage over competition and winning.  “It’s not whether you win or lose,” we often preach to them, “but how you play the game.”

Yet, in our current, fast-paced, digital world, it seems as though no matter where we turn, the rules we have counted on and lived by are being openly flaunted, turned on their heads or broken apart.  What is the impact on the individual and collective psyche when the values we adhere to seem to be splintering before our eyes?

Whether in sports, professional life, academic achievement, marriage and friendship, or any other area of life, what does it mean to act honorably and with integrity even in situations in which it is likely one could get away with doing otherwise? And what happens to the joy of healthy competition and victory when one bends the rules, or cheats, to win?

Co-Coordinators: David Cooper, PhD, and Anne Adelman, PhD

David E. Cooper, Ph.D. is a co-coordinator of this weekend, former member of New Directions steering committee, as well as a long-time co-leader of a ND writing group.  He is Past President of Washington Center for Psychoanalysis and a Training Analyst at the Washington Baltimore Center.  He is interested in the intersection of psychoanalysis and sports, particularly baseball, though in his talk he will focus on his daughter’s time in youth soccer.

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D. is Faculty and Supervisor at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is on the faculty and is a supervisor at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. She is an Editor at Psychoanalytic Dialogues, and Studies In Gender and Sexuality. In 2009, She, Lewis Aron, and Jeremy Safron established the Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School University. She co-edits the Book Series Relational Perspectives in Psychoanalysis. She is an editor of the IPA ejournal

Michael Sokolove is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, where he has written frequently about the intersection of sports and society. His books include HUSTLE: The Myth, Life and Lies of Pete Rose; THE LAST TEMPTATION OF RICK PITINO, and DRAMA HIGH, The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town and the Magic of Theater, which was the basis of the NBC prime-time series Rise.

Kerry J. Sulkowicz, MD is Founder and Managing Principal of Boswell Group LLC, a consultancy based in New York. Kerry is also President-Elect of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He has written more than 75 columns on the psychology of business, including the monthly “Analyze This” column in BusinessWeek,  “The Corporate Shrink” in Fast Company magazine and “Worse than Enemies: The CEO’s Destructive Confidant,” that appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 2003. Kerry is on the Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York and is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. Kerry is past board chair of Physicians for Human Rights, which shared in the Nobel Peace Prize, and also serves on the Advisory Council of Acumen.