Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


If you’re one of those who laments about an obsession with winning, take the example of what happened to Mike Nugent Tuesday and figure it out. The reality is…there’s no alternative.

Mike Nugent lost his job as a professional football player on Tuesday. Lost it, by the way, after 13 years of excellent service.

And why did he lose it? He failed under competition, for whatever reason.

He couldn’t make extra points and field goals dependably anymore. Great guy – local guy – former Buckeye – spends time doing charitable work – and signs every autograph. But when you’re paid to do a job and you don’t do it…well, it happened to Nugent on Tuesday.

It’s harsh, I agree. And I’m sure Mike Nugent woke up this morning with a fresh perspective on life, weighing these two options. I can either get better…or quit. I can redeem my reputation by proving that the troubles I had with the Bengals were an aberration…or admit that time has caught up with me and simply move on.

Every one of us faces this crisis, and whether you as a parent know it or not (or want to believe it) it starts as early as grade school and junior high. That’s when the pecking order of your child’s generation begins to manifest itself. That’s when opportunities begin emerging, for class rank, class office, and athletic accomplishment.  Their personal profile, and the manner in which they respond, follows them through the rest of their life, whether you accept it or not.

You can’t stick your head in the sand and say that I’m full of it. What I’m telling you is the truth. My friend and online antagonist, psychologist Sylvia Mendenhall, tells me all the time…that sadly, “You are right”. There are consequences that are directly related to the competitive nature of every child growing up, regardless of their interests or chosen field.

And they never go away. You either grab for your piece of the pie, or be satisfied with the crumbs left over.

BengalsCards_thumb1123Mike Nugent is the example of why winning matters. I agree that it’s relative; that Nugent made a million dollars to kick a football, while others make far less. But to maintain your position, your security, and your focus on life goals, there is no alternative to competing…and winning. You either do it, or Randy Bullock (the Bengals new kicker signed Tuesday) comes in and takes what you worked so hard to achieve.

I write about this repeatedly, and there are those who challenge that people like me put winning before sportsmanship, character, and appreciation for the feelings of those content with accepting less. But seriously, what are the alternatives?

And coincidentally, for those who do win through hard work, diligence, and the life lessons of losing occasionally, poor sportsmanship and poor character is seldom an issue, anyway.

You can feel sorry for Johnny if you want.

You can point the finger at someone else, or take refuge in the modern notion that winning is secondary to how you play the game.

You can salve the hurt by repeating the age-old lament, “It’s OK, Johnny, you did the best you can. It’s not your fault.”

Sonny_thumb0216But ask Mike Nugent to blame the long snapper, the holder, or his offensive line. Ask him why he lost his job. Then ask him which feels better…excuses, or getting the job done?

He’ll tell you…there is no option. Self worth comes with success, and success comes with getting the job done.  It comes with winning!

And yes, what happened to Nugent Tuesday will happen to you and me, and every one of us at some point. It’ll happen to your kids.  It’s happened to mine.  And all you can do is accept the reality…that occasionally someone wants something more than you do; and is capable of taking it away. And when that happens you’re left with those two options.

I’m pretty sure that Mike Nugent got up Wednesday and went back to work. That’s what winners do…and why it’s so important!