>Winning is everything…or not

>Right now, I have one foot in the competitive, aggressive, exciting, but sadly, often shameful world of high school sports. I also have one foot in the encouraging, also exciting, “Aren’t they darling,” and frankly,  honorable world of junior high sports. It’s a bit schizophrenic, and I have to remind myself each time I transition to the “other world” to adjust, adjust, adjust.

Point in case: a few weeks back, my son’s high school team was crushing their competitor; not a point scored for those other poor souls. As a former therapist, I worry about those young, developing boys whose self-esteem could be scarred by such a defeat. Some shared my lamentations of, “Oh please, let’s let them get one basket.” Others were mortified by these thoughts, as this shut-out was an opportunity to drive up the stats of our own teammates. Alas, success and notoriety at this level often trumps the feelings of others. I know, my bleeding heart is pooling around my feet. 

Contrast this with my daughter’s first game yesterday: They were crushing their opponents. Not to brag, (okay, maybe a little…it is my blog), but my daughter scored the first two baskets. When the other team finally scored, the girls AND the parents clapped for the other team. I teared up. Ah…back to the days of “feel good” sports, no stats, and the threat of not getting that scholarship for basketball.

I’m not naive; I get why some folks get riled up. They really want their children to succeed and have a chance at their dreams of playing in college and even the NBA. And I do really want my kids’ teams to win and to play well! But for me, this whole intensity, not wanting to see the other team have a good play or two, is sort of how I feel about clothes. Yes, I look fabulous in skinny jeans, black boots, and a fitted sweater. It makes me look as though I’ve really got my act together (ha!) Oh…but the feel of soft stretchy pants, the “yumminess” of a favorite, well-loved, slightly frayed sweatshirt…is there any contest? I like to feel good and somehow, I feel good when the pants are looser or the competition is less intense, and the atmosphere is one of mutual admiration and self-control.

I will savor these last two years of middle school sports. Soon, the heat will be on both of my children to step it up and not have empathy for the underdog. My inner-melancholic already pines for the simplicity of early childhood and grade school days when the drive to win, be the best, and fight for a position were as far off as getting a driver’s license. For now, I give myself a little pep talk before I step into the high school world of often vicious competition, and remind myself that everything we do is a lesson in life. My children are learning life lessons, even though some of them are painful or the antithesis of what I embrace. Alas, tonight is another game. I will cheer, scream, shout, and by the looks of it, I’m the crazy, overzealous mother, hoping we smash our opponent and that my kid will shine above all others. I guess a part of me is; I just hope I do this with integrity, grace, and compassion.

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2 thoughts on “>Winning is everything…or not

  1. >Susan, I know you. And I know you have no other way but to be graceful and compassionate, even in elastic-waist pants. Your kids are already ahead of others because they'll experience the virtues of competition AND compassion, and that will set them above others. Nothing wrong with being a winner and a good sport!

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