I have five kids. I drive them to their sporting events. To their scholars bowl meets. To play practice. To all their 4-H activities. (I guess I am a soccer mom whose kids don't play soccer!) I cheer my kids on. I get after them a bit if I feel they didn't perform like they should. I'm a mom. That's what I do.
What is with the "win at all costs" mentality that I feel I am faced with so much recently? Why can't we just let kids play the games? Let them learn and have fun. Teach them in a positive manner. They are kids! Not professional athletes. (And shall we talk about the reality that any of them will become professional athletes?) That is how my husband coaches and that is how I teach kids in 4-H activities.
Example number 1.
A volleyball team with 8 players. One coach who is very concerned that all kids play and convinced they can win with all kids playing. She encourages them. Helps them. Has fun with them. The team loves her! Another coach, same team, convinced that 2-3 of the players are "worthless" and "doesn't know what she's going to do with them". Girls are scared of her. Heads butt and the "worthless" coach wins. (I will give her this...she does know volleyball. She can teach them skills. She just doesn't know kids.)
Girls sit A LOT in a "pay to play and improve" situation. How are these girls improving by sitting on the bench? (By the way, these are Jr. high girls....not high school and definitely not college. High school varsity and college are a different story.) So they won the whole tournament. Who cares?? Who is going to remember? What is going to be remembered is the mean things that were said to the benched girls (who are great kids!) and how they were made to feel worthless and not part of the team. And (get this!) previous tournaments were won with these same girls playing a lot! And....the skill level of the opposing teams hadn't changed.
The girls are 13 and 14! Don't you think they have enough problems just surviving 8th grade? Now they have it in their heads that an adult who is suppose to help them doesn't think they matter. Wow! (The girls will be okay. They are good kids.)
("Worthless" coach is now gone and "Concerned" coach has taken her team back. Positive attitudes will prevail.)
Example number 2.
8th grade boys League Championship basketball game. Winning team up by 20. 20 points ahead. That's a lot! 3 lone players play the bench. Up by 20 and they still don't get in. Seriously? Does the coach think his volunteer position is on the line? Maybe he'll get fired if they lose the 20 point lead! At what cost do we win? Why the drive to make kids feel worthless? IT IS 8TH GRADE, not NBA!!!
Example 3 (this one is more parent centered)
We've moved down to 1st grade now. YMCA basketball. How cute, right? Sure.....unless your kid is on the team with the player who runs the ball down the court, no passing involved, no involving other team mates at all....shoots, misses, plows his way through the kids for the rebound, yanks it from another kid and shoots again. Umm....team sport here! All the while, the parents are soooo excited for little Johnny doing such a good job.... of being a ball hog. Hmmmm.....maybe when the rest of the crowd is yelling "Pass the ball" you might get a clue that little Johnny isn't quite playing the game right. (A new note: I want it known that this wasn't the coach on this team. And since writing this, the parents of "little Johnny" have talked with him about his ball handling and discussed it with the coach. He missed the recent game. We shall see how it goes at the next one. God Bless the parents for seeing.)
Just what are we teaching our kids with this "win at all costs" mentality? My son isn't going to remember which first grade basketball games he won, but he sure is going to remember the "ball hog." My daughter isn't going to remember which volleyball games she won, but she is going to remember the coach that encouraged her and believed in her. 20 years from now, no one will remember who won the 8th grade basketball game by 20 points, but those 3 boys, their parents and other members of the crowd will remember the day they lost all respect for a coach who was suppose to be there to help their kids.
Don't get me wrong. I think kids do need to work hard and practice. I think they need to show up on time, work their butts off, and have fun in the process. I think they need to be respectful at all times to coaches. I believe that if they work hard with no attitude, they have proven themselves. I believe that parents need to support coaches in volunteer positions who give of their time and talent.
My point is, winning the game isn't necessarily winning in life.
God Bless those coaches who realize that!