Ok, so I was going to do something island-related, maybe about the top ten things I’ve said to our puppy that I never thought I would say to anything, but I saw an article on Facebook this morning that’s gotten me on a soapbox, so congratulations, you get to hear what I think (that’s why you’re here, right?).
According to this radio broadcast, the Canadian soccer association in Ontario has eliminated score-keeping from youth soccer. And not only the concept of score-keeping, but THE BALL!! Yes, there is no longer a ball in youth soccer in Ontario. (Doesn’t that just make it a group of kids running around swinging their feet at nothing? We’re not only raising bad losers, but crazy people.) The idea behind this is to teach kids that “sport is not a competition, rather it’s about using your imagination. If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then you are.”
What a load of poppycock.
Are we going to take the football out of the NFL? Or the puck out of hockey? Or the ball out of basketball? We’re going to have to, because all the players grew up imagining they were good at playing imaginary sports with an imaginary ball. They won’t even know how to play with a real ball. And of course, heaven forbid they play with a real ball and lose.
I lost a lot of competitions as a child. I competed in science fairs and didn’t win an award. I competed in a spelling bee once and was the second child to sit down. I played little league softball and lost a lot of games. I spent the most miserable summer of my life between the fifth and sixth grades when a large group of girls that I had thought were my friends suddenly stopped hanging out with me because I somehow wasn’t worthy of their company. But you know what? I grew up to be a successful student at the top of my college class with one of the most impressive undergraduate résumés in my department. I grew up with acceptable social skills; I found and married a good man; I can accept both failure and accomplishment.
I don’t say this to toot my own horn. I say this to show that I am not emotionally and psychologically traumatized by those times that I wasn’t victorious in whatever it was that I was doing. I had good parents who taught me that winning isn’t everything, that it’s ok to not always come out on top, and that when you fall down you find a way to get back up again.
Why is that so difficult for kids and parents today to understand?
Little league sports are just the beginning. If we hand out trophies willy-nilly just for showing up and lead every child to believe that he or she actually won the game, what are these same children going to do when they get to high school and someone else is voted class president? Or they get rejected by their top-choice college? Or they fail a class because just showing up wasn’t enough? And what about the work place – being passed over for promotions, losing clients because the pitch wasn’t good enough, not being hired in the first place? The world is a harsh place and kids who are wrapped in fluffy blankets and bubble wrap their entire lives are going to be the ones who bring automatic weapons to their old high schools or to their workplaces and lash out against those who didn’t let them continue to “imagine they were good enough.”
I could go on and on about this forever, but I won’t. I think you get the point. So here’s my top ten list for this week: Ten Things I’ve Learned From Losing.
1. I’ve learned to be resourceful, creative and self-sufficient. You shouldn’t need to have a constant cloud of people around you in order to make your ideas and dreams work.
2. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and my ideas. I got pushed around a lot in middle school and I hated it, but looking back on it, those kids taught me a lot about choosing friends wisely, standing my ground and not being afraid to be different when different is good.
3. I’ve learned to be on time and be prepared. Have ideas already jotted down when you walk into the meeting because if you don’t, you end up sitting there silently as the others dance professional circles around you.
4. I’ve learned how to take charge and how to delegate. If no one steps up to the plate then nothing gets done and the project fails.
5. I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own actions. If I didn’t listen to my coach and swung too early, I struck out. I returned to the bench. I watched my teammates get to round the bases and I learned to listen the next time.
6. I’ve learned that winning isn’t everything, and sometimes it’s better to lose a few times on purpose than to win every single game and beat someone else’s spirit down. Sometimes you just have to sit a round out and let someone else enjoy the limelight for a moment.
7. I’ve learned to go above and beyond whenever possible. The bare minimum gets you to McDonalds; shooting for the moon gets you friends in high places and connections with corner office openings.
8. I’ve learned to be humble about my accomplishments. When you are lucky enough to hit your stride and have success come naturally, you shouldn’t feel the need to rub it in people’s faces. Nobody likes a braggart or someone who always has to one-up the other person.
9. I’ve learned to choose good role models. If you’re trying to mimic mediocre, you’re going to end up less than mediocre.
10. I’ve learned not to trample on others during my own climb up the ladder. You never know who you may see again on your rise to the top, or who might pass you and be calling the shots one day. And you never know whose skills you’ll need on a team or who might unexpectedly have your back in a tough situation someday. It’s good to have friends at all levels of life.
What about you? What is something you learned from losing? How do you feel about the Canadian soccer changes or the way kids are being taught these days?