Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life Lessons: Not Everyone is a Winner

There are winners and losers in life and sports.  Often, as parents and coaches, we might try to sugar coat this reality, but our kids see through these veiled attempts to make everyone feel like a superstar.  Just go a little league baseball game or soccer match and even when no one keeps score, every player on the field knows who scored the most points and won the game.  We might say "everyone is a winner," but the reality is sometimes we lose, often the other team is better than us, and some days we get out played and end up in second place. Or worse.

Mr C just finished his first ever season of Football as a freshman.  He played on the freshman only team and then suited up for a few Reserve games that had both freshman and sophomore players. He wasn't a star player and he didn't get in on every play.  But when he played, he gave his best.  One game he even got "hit" and was thrilled that he even had some bruises to show for his effort.

Now, I think Mr C would be the first to admit that his school is not known as a football powerhouse.  They are a small school with about 220 students in four grades, but due to the fact the school wants to compete against bigger schools in academic competitions (drafting, engineering, speech, math, science), they "play up." and compete against these bigger schools in athletics as well. 

It can make the match ups in football especially a little uneven. In football, its all about having depth, multiple players who can play a particular spot.  When you only have 62 boys in the freshman class, its hard to be very deep.  Don't think I'm some football expert.  All this info I've gleaned this year on the sidelines was from my husband.  When I cried foul the first few games thinking the other team was stacking the field with upperclassman, my honey tried to calm me down by giving me these insights.

All of this leads to the fact that Mr C's team did not win a game this season. At times, they were crushed by the other team and other times they put up a gallant fight and just fell a little short.  What I was most proud of was how they played the game.  Each and every time, they gave it their all, they never gave up, they never lost spirit and each time they went into the game with the goal of winning and giving their best. 

Watching the Varsity team play with the same result while seeing and hearing the school body cheer for them with gusto brought me great pride.  These upperclassmen continued to fight until the end, to give it their all on the field, and proved that real winners don't necessarily win games or awards, but show grit and determination.  The lessons these young men are learning will take them far in life.  In reality, few of these young men will play football in college, the scholarships they earn won't be for their achievement on the playing field. 

There is something to be said for being a gracious loser. Showing up on the field and giving it your all when time and time again you walk off the field with a loss takes courage, faith and strength that you don't always see in young men (or women) today.  It's an old fashioned trait called Valor which means great courage in the face of danger, especially battle.  Seeing it among these young men and their coaches gave me such hope for this generation.

Valor is a life lesson that can only be achieved when you've been through the battle and fought the good fight.  There is so much to be said for that.  In my book, these young men are the real winners in life.

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