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The Team That Has Lost 17,000 Times … And Counting

People love an underdog. Unless it’s the Washington Generals. They are the team that have played against the legendary Harlem Globetrotters for more than 50 years. In all that time, they have managed just one win and more than 17,000 losses. Their job is to lose, which creates a pretty fascinating scenario for professional athletes who are skilled enough to play in front of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, but are never allowed to take a victory lap. They are the basketball equivalent of the sad hapless clown in the circus-like atmosphere of a Harlem Globetrotters show.

The story of their evolution, and that one fateful game back in 1971 where they accidentally won, is worth a read. This is a rare story in sports but also in any other sector. The Washington Generals are paid to lose and be losers. Their job is to make their opponents shine. That is a special kind of person who can do a job like that day in and day out. And it’s hard, which is why the player turnover for the Generals is notoriously high.

Not everyone can take the emotional beat down of constant ridicule and predictable losing. The ones who can must be fascinating people. If I could have one of those “invite anyone to dinner” types of gatherings, I’d probably put a longtime Washington General on the list. I just think everyone could learn a lot from a person like that. 

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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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