Love of the Game

When I was a kid, I LOVED playing basketball! I would go outside and perfect my moves with any ball imaginable. Hours of enjoyment would fly by with short breaks in between. What’s that phrase? Ball is life? Well, it certainly was when I was a kid.

As I got older, I began to play organized sports. This was before the height of AAU basketball. It was the regular season followed by traveling teams. The traveling teams were the best. We would go to tournaments across the state to play different teams in search of winning. One particular time we played a team from Montana. We were 8th graders, and we had a pretty good squad. So, we stepped on the court thinking we had things in the bag.

We proceeded to get molliwopped.

I mean we got whipped! We were discombobulated. Communication broke down. We even stopped paying attention to who we were defending. They had a kid who was 6’7 maybe? The tallest guy we had was about 6’1 or 6’2 (Yes, in 8th grade we were that tall). So, it was tough defending him. I was one of the only ones that could jump with him, but that dude was solid. And he threw a mean elbow. So much so that one of our guys left with a possibly broken jaw.

This had never happened before.

We got dominated in every sporting sense of the word. Prior to this game, we only played local city teams and kids from Bismarck. We kept up/beat them just fine. So, we weren’t used to getting spanked like that. In short, we were the kings of the court. Or so we thought. That day taught us a very humbling lesson.

You’re not nearly as good as you think.

It’s a tough realization to come by, but it was the truth. We thought we were the business until the business got handed to us. It was time to get humble quickly. We walked away to parents who consoled us, but didn’t coddle. They told us what we need to work on, but didn’t let our confidence in our abilities wane.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is losing.

When your kid steps on the field or court, they’re is one winner, the rest lost. That doesn’t mean they are losers, but it means they didn’t win. So, I have to ask a question here.

Why are we handing out participation trophies?

Who came up with the idea that everyone has to feel good after they play sports? I understand teaching good sportsmanship. Of course, we want our kids to feel good and be confident. However, life doesn’t always hand you a Thanks For Playing ribbon. Sometimes we don’t get the job. We don’t get into our first choice for school. Our crush says, “Nah I’m good”, then starts dating someone else within minutes. This right here is life (all of which has happened to me including the girl situation).

So, why are we teach our kids they’ll never lose?

Character is shaped in defeat. True colors come out when things don’t go our way. Do we blame teammates? Or, do we hold ourselves accountable for our contributions (or lack thereof)? We learn the art of perseverance. We learn what it means to come together as a team and push through to the next level. This generation of children are being shafted (in more ways than one parents) because we coddle them from these life lessons. We are doing them a disservice by keeping them lifted up in a fantasy world of everyone is a winner. Lessons in losing carry over to other areas of life. The way your kid behaves on the field/court is the way they’ll behave off of it. Making them believe they’ll receive something even in defeat creates a sense of entitlement.

That does not fair well in life.

In our loss, we learned valuable lessons and came back to win the next game. Perseverance. We didn’t get a trophy for coming. We received life lessons. These lessons should be passed on to the next generation. So, please, let’s change a few things for our children’s sake.

1. Keep score when they are younger
2. Stop giving our participation trophies
3. Be good parents and teach your children life lessons.

Your kids will be better for it.

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