Winning Isn't Important. Or Is It?

As Little League season winds down, we find ourselves gearing up for the playoffs. We’ve made it to the final three teams, and tonight’s game will determine the boy’s future. Well, their future as far as their 2012 Little League season is concerned. I’m fairly certain that it won’t have any lasting impacts on their long term outcomes.

Anyway, if they win tonight they move on to the Championship games! If they don’t win tonight, their season is over and they will walk away as the third place team in their league.

As parents, we’ve been walking a fine line between encouraging the kids to have fun, but to also take the season, and the games, seriously. We’ve spent the past few months cheering loudly for every good hit and run scored, and then turning around and wiping away tears and offering pats on the back when things don’t go their way.

Yes, youth sports are about having fun. If kids aren’t having fun playing a game, they shouldn’t be playing it. But…if your kids are playing a competitive sport and are being taught that winning isn’t important, they’re learning the wrong lessons.
I’m not advocating that children be taught that they need to win at all costs. I’m not saying that they should be made to feel like failures when they lose. Nobody wins all the time. That’s the story of sports, just like it’s the story of life. Things don’t always go your way, but you pick yourself up by your boot straps and try again. If something defeats you, you don’t give up. Kids should be taught to always do their best. They should be taught to strive for first place and straight As.

Are they always going to get them? No. Are they going to be disappointed when things don’t work out the way they’d hoped? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

We have a big game tonight. Win or lose, we’ll be proud of the boys for having played their best. We’ll be disappointed if they lose. But if they do, we’ll hold our heads high and look back on a fun season and walk away knowing that they tried their hardest and there’s always next time.

But we’ll be elated if they win.

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