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Losers Take All by David Klass


Topics of Interest: sports, friendship, rebellion, humour, familial obligations, competition, bullying

Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education

Gender: M/F

Age: 12+

Blurb: I play sports the same way I dance—with two left feet. I’ll just say it: I’m not coordinated when it comes to physical activity. Oh, I played softball in high school, and Ultimate Frisbee as an adult, but I was mediocre at both. It’s just not my thing. I can’t even face the Step class at my gym without fear of twisting an ankle.

The new rule at Jack Logan’s sports-obsessed high school in Losers Take All is that all seniors must play on a team. Well that’s fine for people with natural talent, but Jack isn’t one of them despite the fact that his father is a local football hero and his brothers excelled in sports.

So Jack and his equally uncoordinated friends—in protest over their bully of a principal and his forced athletics—create a C-level, uncompetitive soccer team with the vow to have fun instead of focusing on the win.

But when their goalie falls asleep at the net, players collide with each other, the striker kicks his shoe instead of the ball, and one player throws up, the team—with no chance of winning—instead gets national attention for just how badly it can lose.

The principal, school, and town, used to dominating all things sports-related, aren’t amused, and things turn ugly. Soon, the “Fremont Losers” have more than just their next game to watch out for. Apparently losing—and losing big—is no longer an option.

Flavour: “The only thing more humiliating than having a bunch of junior high school wombats score goal after goal on you is having them invoke a mercy rule and kick it back and forth for thirty minutes as you chase the ball hopelessly and their parents shout ‘Olé, olé!’ Some things happened that afternoon that I doubt have ever been seen on a soccer field before. When Marion stopped shooting at Frank he lost interest and leaned against a goal post. A few minutes later the ref blew his whistle and pointed to where Frank was lying. I sprinted over to him, afraid the shot to his nose had caused some kind of concussion, but he was snoring peacefully.” (124-25)

“’You wanted a team and I gave you one, but I thought in return you’d have some respect for our school and our traditions, [yelled Principal Muhldinger]. Clearly I was wrong. You have no respect. The opposite—you want to tear down all the things we’re most proud of at Fremont. Falling asleep on the field, puking on the sideline, running into a freaking lake—you’re wastes of your parents’ genes! Spastics. Morons. Garbage. You have no pride in our school, and you have no pride in yourselves, and I sure don’t blame you for that because if I were one of you I’d dig a hole and bury myself.’” (127)

“We ran past a woman news reporter taping a stand-up. I heard her say, ‘Here come the self-styled Fremont Losers, whose claim to be the worst soccer team in America has captured—‘ but the rest of her words were drowned out by a roar. The throng of students, townspeople, and strangers had recognized us, and a cheer went up. At that moment, Dylan, who was leading the way, broke into a jog but seemed to get his legs tangled up with Frank, who was following close behind. They went down onto the wet grass, and Chloe and Zirco, who were trailing, skidded into them and joined the pileup. I was in the middle of the pack and was tripped up and knocked down myself. One after another the Losers fell onto the mosh pit of flailing bodies, and I heard the woman reporter shouting to her camera operator, ‘Stay on it, Gus, make sure you get that! What an entrance!’” (200-01)

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