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 May 11, 2019
“If you had fun, you won” (non-competitive sports)

"If you had fun, you won” is a sports saying that has been printed on many images. Participating in sports is often “winning.” The saying is popular in scholastic sports (especially on the elementary school level).

“If you had fun, you won. If you didn’t, well...” was printed in the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal on July 25, 1977. “They (Special Olympics participants—ed.) ask who won and I tell them that if they had fun, they won” was printed in The Sun (Baltimore, MD) on January 27, 1980.


23 July 1977, Akron (OH) Beacon Journal, “Games people play just for the fun of it” by John Husar, pg. B3, col. 6:
“You see, it’s not important to keep score.

“If you had fun, you won. If you didn’t, well...”
(Spoken by Burton Naiditch, executive director of San Francisco’s New Games Foundation.—ed.)

27 January 1980, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Poly hockey gives special athletes the chance to compete and have fun” by Susan J. Reimer, pg. C16, col. 4:
For athletes in the Special Olympics, it’s not whether they win or lose it’s getting to play the game.

“Sometimes they lose track of the score,” said Curt Conley, who coaches the mentally retarded in the floor hockey sport called poly hockey. “They ask who won and I tell them that if they had fun, they won.”

25 May 1980, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “So-Called Women’s Work Is Never Done—Just Ask Mr. McCrudden” by Dick Ulmer, pg. 1-B, cols. 3-4:
“After we play a game in the gym, the kids ask, ‘Who won, Mr. McCrudden?’ I say, ‘If you had fun, you won.’”

9 December 1981, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “All fun: Students ‘love’ non-competitive P.E.,” Extra sec. 2, pg. 13, col. 5:
“At the conclusion of the game,” the article continues, “I was overwhelmed with shouts and pleas of ‘Who won, who won?’ It is a normal response for youngsters who have not been directed or encouraged to respond otherwise.

“Quieting them, I asked, ‘While playing this game, who had fun?’...Every hand shot upward. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘if you had fun, you won!’”

issuu
30 October 1983, New York (NY) Times, “High-School Football: Playing for Keeps” by Craig Wolff, magazine sec., pp. 38, col. 2:
“Winning is what matters here. And why not. I don’t like it when people say, ‘If you had fun, you won.’”

22 October 1986, Jackson Hole News (Jackson, WY), “Youth league makes sportsmen” by Angus M. Thuermer, Jr., pg. 17, col. 3:
(Peter—ed.) Edington said the competitors are told that the bottom line is enjoyment. As he tells the players “if you had fun, you won.”

Twitter
Leon Chism 🐇
@leonc
The sign in the elementary school gym “if you had fun you won”. What kind of crap are they feeding my kids.
8:50 PM - 13 Nov 2008

Chicago Now—Moms Who Drink And Swear
If you had fun, you won.....NOT!
By Nicole Knepper, June 3, 2011 at 7:00 am
Yesterday was “Field Day,” at my children’s school.
(...)
Sun and fun; my kids came home tired and sun kissed. I loved being part of this memory for them yet something just KILLED part of it for me. At the end of the day, I was fishing junk out of the Spawn’s shorts pocket when I found a green ribbon that said, “If you had FUN you WON.”

BULLSHIT.

I never tire of complaining about the way the schools treat kids these days. Nobody wins? Bullshit. Somebody does win. There IS always a winner.

Google Books
I Funny:
A Middle School Story

By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company
2012
Pg. ?:
“Because winning isn’t everything. In fact, in our diner softball league, we like to say, ‘If you had fun, you won.’”

25 August 2017, PR Newswire (New York, NY), “Encouraging Children to Take an Interest in Chess”:
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Aug. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/—Plastic chess set and chess supplies manufacturer, The House of Staunton, shares tips on introducing chess to children at a young age.
(...)
Stress having fun. Chess is a demanding game, mentally and emotionally. It is important for children to have fun while they play. Pushing children too hard can backfire. Keep their early exposure to chess lighthearted in nature and be very encouraging. Children will be more likely to take an interest in the game if they feel supported and capable. If they had fun, they won.

Twitter
Kansas Jayhawk Fans
@FansOfKU
They tried their best, and that’s what matter most. If you had fun, you won.
8:32 PM - 30 Jan 2018

Twitter
Ashley E. Kauffman
@futurewriter13
Replying to @sarahdessen
I remember Field Day at my old elementary school too! Good luck to your daughter, and hope she has lots of fun! My former gym teacher Mr. Mohr would say on Field Day, “If you had fun, you won!” I always keep his advice close to heart!
9:49 AM - 10 May 2019

Outsports
Winners and losers of the week
Life — and competition — are not always fair

By Dawn Ennis May 11, 2019, 5:00am PDT
(...)
Remember that old saying from little league? “If you had fun, you won!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Saturday, May 11, 2019 • Permalink