Lessons from Losing
Thoughts on Being the Loser
I have never been very athletic. I played a few sports in middle school but I didn't have that "natural ability" so after 8th grade I didn't participate in any extracurricular sports. When my son decided he wanted to play basketball I was excited for him and yet a bit nervous. I thought being on a team would be a great opportunity for him to learn how to work well with others, but really, I think this experience is teaching him a lot more than just how to be a team player. He's only been playing for a few years but I have learned a great deal about the character of many parents, coaches, and athletes just by witnessing their support (or lack of) during games. I have learned what kind of parent I DON'T want to be. What makes it even more interesting is that my son's basketball team seems to be a bit challenged, they rarely win. I always said that losing is going teach them far more in life than always being the winner. (most of the other parents would disagree with me) Losing is a great lesson in humility. It is a great lesson on how practice, focus, and hard work can transform a person from good to great. It isa good lesson that not all things come easy, we must strive to accomplish those things we are passionate about. Not, just in basketball but in all aspects of life.
Quite often during the games, I find myself focusing on the actions of the spectators and coaches more so than the boys on the court. It's not odd to hear parents screaming at their kids over a missed shot or a bad pass. Don't get me wrong, I'm a full supporter of correcting our kids when they screw up, however, most of the these kids already know they made a bad shot or threw an off pass before the ball even leaves their hands (you can see it on their face), I really don't find itnecessary for parents or coaches to scream at them from the sidelines, actually I find it a disheartening. First Thessalonians says "Encourage one another and build one another up" (5:11), it's unfortunate that when these kids are losing, parental encouragement seems to be quite lacking. I wonder how the actions of these coaches and parents are shaping the character of these boys? What are they really teaching them? That winning is the only thing that matters? That if they aredissatisfied with someone'sperformance screaming at that person will make it all better?? I don't know about you, but when I messup I really don't believe God is looking down at me screaming, I think he's up there encouraging me to learn from my mistakes, to move on and hopefully do better next time. If my son learns anything from participating in these sports, I pray that he also is learning who he DOESN'T want to be.
We were at a tournament this past weekend and I overheard a boy from one of the better teams come up to our team (they are all in 8th grade) and say, "They say you guys are really bad". It was meant as an insult, and it really made methink, that comment inspired this blog. That comment made me realizethat the boys who never lose a game are missing out, they are missing out on one of life's greatest lessons, that great lesson of humility. The lesson of being Christ-like. So maybe there is a lot to learn from doing our best but NOT finishing first. If I had to choose my son being on a losing team and learning this lesson in humility or being on a winning team an learning how to be arrogant, I choose the losing team every single time. Don't get me wrong it's nice to be the winner, but if we do our best, if we give our all, there is absolutely no shame in coming in second, or third, or even last. I believe in this situation, losing is building much more character than winning ever could.
So I guess basketball can be a fun past-time, but it can be a great life lesson not only for the players but for mom too!
"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves."
"It's not odd to hear parents screaming at their kids over a missed shot or a bad pass."
How mean! I've heard some odd comments from opposing teams, or from coaches of older groups, but actually not parents. Would they like it maybe if their bosses did that to them at work? Would it help them work faster or better?
You are right - losing is indeed a great lesson. Actually, I read something about this ages ago and found it again, thought it might be of interest as it goes rather well with your blog. http://www.bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/1399
God bless, and thanks for an interesting read,
This is a great blog and one which everyone should read. Just this morning I heard someone over the radio speak on the topic of losing and how much we really do learn from losing. They went on to say that highly successful people actually tend to lose or mess up frequently. Why? Because they are risk-takers. It takes more grit and determination to press on, even when you are struggling or pick yourself up off the floor than it does to be in the lead. I had a great deal of respect for the players of an opposing team awhile back. They were trailing so far behind that there was simply no way they could win and they didn't. They didn't quit though and actually a member of the winning team publicly. He commented that they were a great team, they had given it their all but sometimes, despite a team's best efforts, they lose sometimes and next time... it could be his team.
One of the greatest compliments my son has paid me as an adult was telling me that he knew that no matter how much he lost, no matter how much he messed up, he knew I would always be in his corner cheering him on and encouraging him. The past two years have been the toughest most heartbreaking years of his life, some of it of his own making and he knows it. When our kids know that we love them and do not reject them no matter what, how much easier it is for them to trust that God will do the same.
Nancy, Excellent message and right to the truth of the matter. Seeing someone humble in victory or defeat is a true blessing and one our society has quickly lost. Look forward to reading more. In Him, Les