04 June 2010

winning so good that you lose

It's not that I completely disagree with the "you're all winners" nature of kid sports. I get it. Winning rocks and losing sucks. And it really sucks if you lose all the time.

In kids' sports, some team is bound to be on the short end more often than not. (And if I recall correctly, those were the ones I tended to be on.) Growing up, there isn't much that's more demoralizing than when your team is wearing somewhat matching shirts (WalMart green doesn't always match Target green, you know) and the other team has got full blown matching uniforms all the way to the sneakers.

Probably the only bigger downer than being on the not-so-good team [me] is being the one good player on that team [not me].

So yeah, I get it. Kid sports are supposed to be fun and about teamwork and getting along blah blah blah. And we want these young ones to grow up with positive self images because we don't want to shatter their dreams so early in life yada yada yada.

You know what else is a part of life? Knowing that sometimes you're not going to be good at something, and knowing that sometimes you do lose. Knowing that there are days you're going to be out skilled, that you can still keep fighting and that once in a while you can actually pull it off. That David doesn't always beat Goliath, but you can still have a fun time without being patronized. I don't know if many of these parents remember, but regardless of what the score is, if a team is outmatched they usually know it, and no amount of "Yay you're all winners" is going to hide that fact.

So while I agree with the Slaughter Rule ("dude this was so over half an hour ago, can we just end this and go for pizza now?"), I'm definitely not in favor in penalizing a winning team just to make the losing teams not so loser-ish.

But what do I know.

You know who does know? The league that says that if a team wins by more than five points they automatically LOSE. Because losing a game that you know you never really would have won is always better when the other team stands around and lets you score so you can stay close. Way to teach life skills, league organizer people.

Not only that, it's just bad math.

"Warren Park wins 12-4 over Chase Park" sounds right. "Chase Park wins 4-12 against Warren Park" should mean that someone needs to get off the playground and find themselves a tutor.

Sports teaches us things about dealing with real life as we get older. Teamwork, preparation, and strategy are all good things to know. At the same time, dealing with failure and learning resilience are just as, if not even more important.

Sometimes you don't get what you want. Not everyone gets to be on the Dean's list, that lady you're after is totally out of your league, and that perfect job just went to someone else.

God help that kid who grows up expecting the world to slow down for them when they can't keep up.

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