A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 17, 2014
“Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat”

"Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat” is a popular sports saying that is usually attributed to American basketball coach Bill Musselman (1940-2000). Musselman’s University of Minnesota Gophers basketball team played Ohio State in February 1972, and a sign with this saying hung above the shower room at Minnesota’s Williams Fieldhouse. Paul Giel, athletic director of the University of Minnesota, wrote to Sports Illustrated on February 21, 1972, and explained the sign:

“Reed cites as the pith of Musselman’s philosophy the message, ‘Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.’ This slogan is not original with Musselman. It is one of more than a dozen slogans in the dressing room. Strangely enough, no one had seen fit to point it out as objectionable until Reed used it to his own purpose.”

The “defeat is with than death” slogan was, indeed, not original with Musselman and is of unknown authorship. “Defeat is worse than death. You have to live with defeat” was cited in October 1967, on a sign displayed in the elevator in the press box at a Texas Tech Red Raiders football game in Lubbock.


Wikipedia: Bill Musselman
William Clifford “Bill” Musselman (August 13, 1940 – May 5, 2000) was an American basketball coach in the NCAA, the ABA, the WBA, the CBA and the NBA. He was a fiercely intense coach who once was quoted as saying, “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”

8 October 1967, Lubbock (TX) Advance-Journal, “Tech Dream Turns To Taste Of Ashes” by Jay Harris, pg. 14-A, col. 8:
Actually, a sign in the elevator in the press box (at Texas Tech—ed.) possibly summed it up best of all.

It read: “Defeat Is Worse Than Death...You have to Live With Defeat.”

4 February 1972, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Hal Asks...” by Hal Lebovitz, pg. 1-C, col. 4:
Above the shower room at Williams Fieldhouse in Minnesota, the night Ohio State played, was this sign:

“Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”

Sports Illustrated
Originally Posted: February 7, 1972
An Ugly Affair In Minneapolis
When an overpsyched Minnesota basketball team went berserk in a critical Big Ten game, Luke Witte and his Ohio State teammates were not the only victims; the entire sport emerged with a black eye

BY WILLIAM F. REED
(...)
The only question was how they would get along with Musselman, known always as a strict disciplinarian. “Discipline is the most important thing in life,” says Musselman.

Next to winning, of Course. To help achieve what Musselman considered a winning environment, inspirational slogans were painted by an assistant coach on the walls of Minnesota’s locker room in maroon and gold. Over the door to the players’ shower is this message, the pith of the Musselman philosophy: “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.”

Sports Illustrated
Originally Posted: February 21, 1972
19Th Hole: The Readers Take Over
THE MINNESOTA AFFAIR
Sirs:
I would like to make it perfectly clear that as athletic director of the University of Minnesota I do not condone the acts of physical violence and crowd reaction that led to early termination of the Ohio State-Minnesota basketball game in Williams Arena on Jan. 25. In fact, I deeply regret them. This was the first time in more than 80 years of University of Minnesota basketball that a game here had gotten beyond the control of officials.

I must however, strongly protest the reporting of William F. Reed (An Ugly Affair in Minneapolis, Feb. 7). Any reaction from Minnesota fans in the waning moments of the game is far overshadowed by the nationwide reaction he has precipitated by his highly inflammatory rhetoric and strongly biased editorializing to the discredit and detriment of the university, its athletic department, its basketball program and Coach Bill Musselman.

Reed cites as the pith of Musselman’s philosophy the message, “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.” This slogan is not original with Musselman. It is one of more than a dozen slogans in the dressing room. Strangely enough, no one had seen fit to point it out as objectionable until Reed used it to his own purpose.
(...)
PAUL GIEL
Minneapolis

Sports Illustrated
Originally Posted: October 23, 1972
Jeepers! Peepers Is In Charge Now
Some think Jack Scott looks like the comedian, others say he acts like one. And Scott? Hired as Oberlin College’s new athletic director, he agrees he is way out—but not dangerous

BY GWILYM S. BROWN
(...)
Scott then damns the U.S. sporting Establishment with its own words, quoting Vince Lombardi ("Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing"), Leo Durocher ("Nice guys finish last") and finally Bill Musselman, the controversial and competitive Minnesota basketball coach who had the slogan posted over the players’ shower: “Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.” The last invariably gets a big laugh.

Google Books
1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said:
Many Amusingly Illuminated by Antique Etchings and Line Cuts

Edited by Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Fawcett, Columbine
1988
Pg. ?:
I54
Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat.
Bill Musselman

Google Books
And I Quote:
The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker

By Ashton Applewhite, William R. Evans II and Andrew Frothingham
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1992
Pg. 363:
Defeat is worse than death, because you have to live with defeat. — Bill Musselman

Twitter
Eric Musselman
‏@EricPMusselman
Special day- dad’s birthday
“Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat” Bill Musselman
12:17 AM - 14 Aug 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Friday, October 17, 2014 • Permalink