Sports have never been my “thing”.
I did play kiddie kickers soccer when I was 6 or 7,and even attempted upwards basketball when I was in middle school, but ,I’ve never been coordinated enough, or even had the “drive” to excel in any type of athletic activity.
Despite my shortcomings as an athlete, I’ve got at least one child who really excels in sports, especially when it comes to baseball.
So,since baseball season is quickly approaching, I signed both LB and RB up for baseball with one of our local recreation leagues.
Although LB has played baseball in the past, it has been a couple of years since I’ve registered him to play for a competitive league, and of course since RB is only 6, this is the first year he has been eligible to play.
Upon registering this year, I was told that parents are now required to first register for a program called P.A.Y.S. (parents association for youth sports). Without registering, your child is unable to play for any city recreation league.
Ok, I thought, I can do that, it’s only five dollars, no big deal.
So I went home,
logged onto the web site,
and was informed that I not only had to pay five dollars, but I had to pay five dollars in order to take a 40 minute online course about good sportsmanship, how as parents we should encourage the players on every team (even if they’re the opposition), and how most importantly, there are no winners or losers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about good sportsmanship. I think it’s great that regardless of the sport, kids are always made to go down the line after each game, giving a slap on the hand and a “good game”, to everyone on the opposing team. In fact, I don’t understand why professional athletes don’t do that as well.
What I don’t understand is why little league sports associations put such a high premium on teaching our kids that “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game”.
I mean, come on, clearly it’s important for kids to learn how important it is to work as a team, and play with integrity and respect for others but is that really the only important aspect of playing a sport?
If winning doesn’t matter, then why do they call them “competitive” sports?
Why have teams at all?
More importantly, how does teaching kids that there are no winners or losers prepare them for life?
Let’s think about this for a minute….
After the super bowl did anyone see a commercial that said “Peyton Manning, you just lost the super bowl, but you played the game, which was the only important thing anyway, Now what are you going to do?”to which Peyton responds “I’m going to DIsney World!!”
NO you didn’t see that commercial!! You know why? Because the Bronco’s LOST the super bowl!
The Seahawks didn’t get the Lombardi trophy based solely on the fact that they played the game. They got the trophy because they WON the game!
Now I know, some people might say, “Well, that’s professional sports and most kids who play little league will never make it to the professional leagues but, the principals they’re learning will help them as they go out into the world.”
My response to this would be, Where in the business world does the “nobody wins or loses” rule apply?
Does anyone ever get promoted because they simply show up to work?
Of course not! People succeed in business when they’re better at what they do than anyone else in their field.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that I think winning is the ONLY thing that’s important.
As I said earlier in the post, I think it’s great that we’re teaching our kids to be kind, as well as respectful to other players regardless of if they win or lose.That’s a concept that they can use throughout their lives.
Learning to work as team in order to achieve a common goal is also something that will prove to be beneficial as they go off into the “real” world.
On the other hand, what do we accomplish by handing out trophies at the end of the season to everyone who showed up to play?
Nothing! All we’re doing is instilling a sense of entitlement that wasn’t necessarily earned.
I truly believe that there is nothing wrong with teaching our kids to strive for excellence in everything they do. It’s ok for their goal in sports,as well as in life, to be to win, as long as they win fairly and with integrity. Winning requires hard work and dedication, and those are values that children really need in order to succeed in life.
At the same time, I also think it’s important for kids to experience failure every once in a while.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, I’ve learned more from my mistakes, and my losses, than I ever would have if everything was just handed to me with absolutely no effort on my part.
Why is it so wrong for us to want that for our children?
I think Wilma Rudolph said it best, when she said:
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”