We may not have a “winner take all” culture, but it often feels that way. We have a tendency to overvalue winners and overly devalue losers. A person or a business or an idea that manages to rise to a position of indisputable dominance in their field – business, science, the arts, sports – are frequently considered to be possessed of rare, almost magical qualities. They become case studies into best business practices or the nature of genius.

And sometimes rightly so. There are truly insightful innovators at Facebook and Google, there are histories of savvy decision-making and brand-building at General Foods and General Motors, there is a burning brilliance that fueled the discoveries of Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur, and the creative achievements of Joyce and Picasso are towering and enduring for a reason.

However, if you look just a notch or two below these undisputed champions, these world-changers, these gold medal winners who bestride their domains like colossi, there are thousands of stories ­– sometimes cautionary, sometimes inspiring – among those who didn’t quite make it to the very pinnacle, those in the silver or bronze medal spots or off the podium entirely, the 80-pound chimps who for one reason or another never became the 800-pound gorilla.

This site is dedicated to them – The Also-Rans.   We hope you’ll enjoy perusing these stories and that you find them as interesting to read about as we have found it rewarding to report on.

For those new to this site, the About page serves as a quick context-setter.  The stories themselves can be navigated by category – see the list to the right.  On the Observations page, we’ve drawn a few conclusions about coming in second best, at best.



  1. Ray;

    Loved your article on the Also-Rans and the story of Jesse and Eulace; have to disagree with you on one point, if Peacock did not get injured and made the 36 Olympic team, I believe Peacock would have beaten Jesse in the 100 he seemed to have his number and Jesse seemed to know it, being a sprinter my self for going on 62 years once a man continues to beat you it gets into your head and you wonder on race day will he beat me again, it can mean the difference.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Gary. Not being a runner myself, I’ll defer to your keener insights into the runner’s mind and would grant Peacock even higher laurels in the “what-if” scenario. It’s what makes this particular story so exasperating in many ways. Many Also-Rans (in my reading) are very much the authors of their fates. Not so Peacock, who was deprived his shot at glory. Congrats on your longevity as a runner, btw. 62 years! May you enjoy many more!


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