It became the iconic quotation of the NFL Films era of professional football and was mistakenly attributed to the iconic coach of pro football’s Golden Era, Vince Lombardi.
“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”
It’s a perfect summation of the insider’s view of football, the consummate elevation of a spectacle and a sport to the existential stature of war.
In war, and especially to the warriors themselves, winning is the only thing that matters.
To outsiders, especially to media outsiders like the legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, there is a different perspective – sportsmanship: “it’s not that you won or lost but how you played the game.” In sizing up wars, the outsiders’ perspective is usually called history.
In covering the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, I was told time and again by people on the nationalist, separatist side that the persistent wars among Croat Roman Catholics, Serb Orthodox, and Bosnian Muslims were what defined regional history. “we cannot live together,” said the Bosnian Serb leader and convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic.
“But,” a secular historian in Sarajevo countered, “We have lived together. All those wars take up about 20 years out of every century. The other 80 years, when we’re not fighting, we know how to live together. That’s our real history.”
That’s what I meant about Grantland Rice’s judgment, “it’s not that you won or lost but how you played the game,” being like an historical perspective. You won the battle, and then what? ABoth battle and aftermath are parts of the story.
Right now, the Battle for Mosul, Iraq, the battle to expel the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is moving from the short-term, single purpose of war…”Just win,” to the broader, trickier complexities of history, where the winners’ battle tactics and post-war conduct get as much scrutiny as who won.
Today, were going to look at the war that was fought first in East and then in West Mosul, Iraq, where day by day and week by week, winning became more and more the only thing. Tomorrow, we’ll be talking with Shelly Culbertson of the RAND Corporation who has just completed a year-long assignment to plan and prioritize management decisions for the post-war recovery of Mosul.
But today, our guest is Ivor Prickett photo-journalist for the NY Times, who has for much of the past year been recording extraordinary images of one of the longest, bitterest, most destructive battles of the past 100 years, the battle to re-take the city of Mosul from the Islamic State for the nation of Iraq.
Ivor Pricket studied documentary photography at Newport University in Wales, and began his career as a freelance photographer in London. With a particular interest in the aftermath of war and its humanitarian consequences, his early projects focused on issues throughout the Balkans. In 2009 he relocated to the Middle East from where he documented the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in Egypt and Libya, working simultaneously on editorial assignments and his own long term projects. Currently based in Istanbul, Ivor continues to work extensively throughout the Levant and Turkey. For much of the 2014 and 2015 he has been documenting the Syrian refugee crisis in the region as well as Europe, working closely in collaboration with UNHCR. His work has been recognized through a number of prestigious awards including The Ian Parry Scholarship in 2007 and The National Portrait Gallery Taylor Wessing prize in 2015. Ivor’s clients range from Time magazine to UNHCR .