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One Sport Ends, Another Begins February 15, 2008

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Parenting/Children, Sports.
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It’s now official, wrestling season is over.

wrestling_award

My youngest son, to the surprise of the entire family, not only decided to wrestle, he accomplished a number of surprising things. What’s even better? The things he accomplished that can’t be counted in the win/loss column.

Some Gonna Win, Some Gonna Lose
One of the interesting things that my sons have learned from sports is the relative importance (or lack thereof) of winning and losing. There is some truth in the adage of “it’s good to learn from a loss, but it’s better to win,” but there really is value in learning that everybody loses sometime.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how good you are, or what you’re doing, there is always someone who, on a given day, will be able to beat you. This is as true in business (or virtually any aspect of life) as it is in athletics. Now, there are certainly ways to learn from a loss outside of athletic competition. I’m not suggesting that sports are the only way, or that they are right for everyone.

What frustrates me is that so many people want to take the winning and losing out of competition, in a misguided attempt to help the self-esteem of their children, and end up crippling them for the realities of life. From that perspective, losing can be a great thing, because it can prepare you for success in something that matters a great deal more than some numbers on a sports scoreboard.

If Goodtime Charlie Learns, He Won’t Have the Blues
What did my son accomplish, purely by the metrics of the sport? Here’s the tally:

  • Had a winning record (21-20)
  • Qualified for the State Tournament
  • Was competitive against top 20 competition
  • Only “missed weight” one time all season

What did he gain off the mat? That part gets even better:

  • Discovered that he can learn something brand new
  • Developed respect for athletes that he had never understood
  • Heard numerous compliments from the coaches about his work ethic
  • Learned how to monitor and maintain his weight in a healthy way
  • Learned that effort and dedication pays off, regardless of your ability
  • Demonstrated humility in victory and success
  • Demonstrated respect for his opponent, even in defeat
  • Was reminded, once again, that giving 100% allows you to live without regret, no matter the outcome
  • Learned how to compete intensely, one-on-one, in a very personal form of competition (while laughing and being friends with your opponent as soon as the match is over)

I have no doubt that it’s quite possible to learn many of these things, and have this kind of outcome, without there being any sport involved. What’s really cool is to see it, and see it so clearly, first-hand.

My Favorite Moment of the Season
There were hundreds of good things that happened this season, but my favorite moment came on the day that my son placed 3rd in the region (thereby qualifying for the State Tournament). His older brother wanted to know how he’d done, and wanted to know if he “looked competitive” against the people in his weight class.

I confirmed that he did, but that you could tell that most of his opponents had wrestled for several years, and that his lack of experience limited his performance. Then I added, “But there’s no doubt if you put pads and helmets on, and put them on a football field, that he would dominate every one of these guys.”

My older son replied, “Dad, you could line him up across from just about anybody on a football field and he would dominate them.” My response? I made sure that my younger son heard me repeat his older brother’s compliment, several times.

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