There Are WINNERS And LOSERS In Sports

I love sports for kids. There are so many life lessons to be learned: character, hard work, determination, teamwork, resilience, and so on.

However, one lesson many parents downplay is winning and losing.

There is the philosophy of “everyone is a winner“, and yes, that is great to help build children’s confidence and self esteem early on.

But, how realistic is it later?

You’re really setting your child up for failure and heartache by ignoring the fact that someone wins and someone DOES NOT win in sports. It’s not being mean, it’s just being realistic.

This became evident to me at one of Mo’s soccer games.

Mo’s Under 10 team was up 5-2. A kid from the other team committed a blatantly obvious handball near the goal. Myself and a few other parents said “handball” in unison.

The ref ignored it giving the kid an opportunity to get closer to the goal to take a shot (he never did, Mo stole the ball and sent it up field).

As the game went on, it became evident that the ref was giving calls to the other team in an attempt to help them score more goals. Didn’t work. Mo’s team went on to score 2 more goals winning 7-2.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen. In previous experiences I’ve heard refs say they are trying to give the other team a chance to catch up and make it a closer game so the other team doesn’t feel so bad.

I have a problem with this reasoning:

1. You’re basically CHEATING for the other team to stroke their ego about losing. You’re compromising ethics/rules and trying to help them get ahead not by hard work and skill, but a handout.

2. You’re penalizing the team that’s ahead for playing hard, working together, and winning.

To me, if you don’t want your child’s feelings hurt about losing, don’t put him in competitive sports. They keep score for a reason and that determines who wins and loses the game.

Now, some of you might say, if Mo’s team lost 7-2 I’d feel differently. Incorrect, Mo’s team got smashed lost 9-0 a few weeks earlier. They weren’t given any calls, no Kumbaya on the field, no Referee Godmother gave out tissue.

They got an old fashion ass whipping.

And guess what, from that, Mo’s team went back to the drawing board…they bonded as a team over the loss, had 2 hour practices twice a week to hammer out inconsistencies, and most importantly, they learned character and humility.

Parents are doing their child an incredible disservice by not allowing them to face adversity and loss.  You have to learn how to get back up at an early age.

Losing also teaches the importance of being a good winner. It’s hard to forget a tough loss but hopefully when you win, you remember how it feels to be on the other side.

Just as winning is part of the game, so is learning to lose.

As much as we’d like to live in a perfect world, everyone doesn’t win 1st place. DEAL WITH IT.

After his loss, Mo learned, you win some, you lose some, and sometimes you get your ass kicked. That shouldn’t define you.  It’s how you handle the loss that determines who you really are.

So Mr. Replacement Ref, don’t take it from me, take it from some of sports’ finest, it is ok to lose sometimes, THAT’S LIFE:

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. — B.C. Forbes

Our goal is not to win. It’s to play together and play hard. Then, winning takes care of itself. — Mike Krzyzewski

If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards. — Paul “Bear” Bryant

Champions keep playing until they get it right. – Billie Jean King

The only way to prove you’re a good sport is to lose. – Ernie Banks

It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up. – Vince Lombardi

It’s not up to anyone else to make me give my best. – Hakeem Olajuwon

I run on the road long before I dance under the lights. – Muhammad Ali

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. -John Wooden

When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn. – Tom Landry

If you never lose, then you can never appreciate the victories. – Laura Twitchell

I’ve never known anybody to achieve anything without overcoming adversity. – Lou Holtz

Win or lose, do it fairly.– Knute Rockne


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