September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Winning and losing in sports and life

By Kelli [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The school district where my husband teaches recently had the great opportunity to play boy's basketball at the state tournament game.
He volunteered to chaperone a bus there and back full of middle school boys (something you could not pay me enough to do. I didn't like myself in middle school, let alone other people's children).
They won their first game, and as they waited while loading the buses for the four-plus hour trip home from Des Moines, he had to holler at kids who started yelling taunts to the losing team as they walked past the bus to ready for their own long trip home.
Some of my daughter's friends were in a bus full of female students who were also conducting themselves in ways that I am sure they would not want to be treated if they had their dreams of becoming a "champion" come to an end.
My husband was embarrassed by the students' behavior. Yes, the kids got a serious talking to about sportsmanship from him the next day at school, but this whole situation got me thinking about sportsmanship.
I think lessons in sportsmanship, along with manners, courtesy and a wide range of other things, need to start at home. Yes, the school can reinforce these lessons, but there is no way they are going to "fix" kids who are not learning these basic life skills at home.
They may say "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," but I think that is a bunch of bunk. Yes, everyone should try their best, but treating others well and having fun are more important lessons.
Children need to be taught not only to be good losers, but also kind winners. It can start with something as small as playing board games with young children. Let them win sometimes, but let them lose as well. When they lose tell them "good game" and mean it. When they win make them tell the other players that they did well, or that they put up a good fight.
When they play little league and soccer as youth don't focus on if they won or lost, but rather if they tried their best and had fun.
I've seen a 10-year-old mock players who were obviously trying hard but didn't have the natural abilities he had without a word from his parents.
My nephew played in the state football championship game in 2010 and they lost. They lost with grace and held their heads high after trying their best. I was much more proud of the players from my hometown who "lost" than I would have been if I were affiliated with the team that won. They were, to put it bluntly, jerks. They didn't offer a hand to the other players they knocked down. Their fans made rude comments and booed.
After that game we talked with our kids about sportsmanship. The message we said over and over was to treat the other team the way you would want to be treated. We pointed out how those players and fans were not only representing their school; they were also representing themselves, their communities and their families.
We agreed that being a kind loser was much better than being a winning jerk.
These discussions need to take place at home. Children need to know that they are not only representing themselves, but also their entire families. I would be embarrassed and ashamed if my kids treated someone that poorly and they know it. If I hear about them treating people without kindness there are consequences.
If the kids get a laugh and a pat on the back at home for rubbing losing into someone else's face, no message from their teachers is going to make a difference.
No one is going to win all the time. They are going to be on the losing end from time to time. And, actually, if you in the game called life, if you only worry about wining and losing, you will never have any fun.
It all comes down to the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Start this lesson at home.[[In-content Ad]]


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