I have a question for all you sports parents there. Do you care if your kids win or lose?
OK, let’s back up. What I really want is for the kids to try their hardest. I want them to take lessons and go to practice and listen to their coaches and soak up all the plays they can. I want them to skate their little butts off and feel good about their effort, to learn the life lesson that with sweat comes the reward of improvement.
And then I want all that hard work to pay off.
Last month, we were scheduled to play the number one team in the league. That cache carries in sport, the same way it does in everyday life. When there’s someone above you, and you find yourself looking up, you get intimidated. You feel like they know more, they know better. No matter how tall you are, you feel dwarfed. You may even question your ability to compete.
When someone is on top, it’s tempting to accept the status quo as if it’s the way God meant it – as if it’s an immutable fact and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So when I picked up my tween at school and he said he was nervous – something I had never heard him say before – I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Why? I asked.
Because they’re undefeated, he said. Because we’re going to lose.
So? So what if you do? I launched into my coach pep talk. Everyone has to lose sometimes and guess what? Losing is good.
His eyes grew wide. Losing? Good?
You bet, kid. Losing teaches you what it means to fall and get back up, I told him. If you never lose, you don’t know how it feels on the bottom. You don’t learn compassion for other people. You don’t learn to be humble. Plus, losing gives you somewhere to go and something to strive for. It makes you hungry for more.
I was on a roll.
And nerves? Guess what? They’re good sometimes, too. A little healthy anxiety sparks a fire under you. It makes you skate faster, fight harder, morph into Superman, or Bobby Orr, or the very best you.
The takeaway: Winning? Losing? Bah. Who cares. Use your nerves to do your personal best, buddy. Get out there and feel good. And have a little faith.
Yeah, it was time to take my own advice. You see, I hadn’t planned on attending that fateful game even though I’m like a fixture in the stands, screaming and tweeting and biting my nails. So why was I was bowing out this time?
Because like a kid in middle school, I had felt intimidated too.
No one wants to see their child, or their child’s team, get crushed. I know I didn’t. But since I was on a roll, preaching what I obviously didn’t practice, I had no choice but to stop and take note.
It turns out this sports mom thing is not about seeing your kid win. It’s about cheering him and his friends on as they get out there and try their best. It’s about having a little faith in kids, in coaches, and in a game that can teach us all a thing or two.
The fact that we won? Yeah, I’m still smiling. But mostly because I showed up – just like all the 10-year-olds who gave it their all. Win or lose, there was a lesson for everyone.
Originally posted on www.stixandpux.com, A Hockey Mom’s View from the Stands