- Posted February 11, 2014 by
West Hempstead, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Teaching Children How To Win Through Losing
A friend of mine told me he planned to take his two boys to play in a basketball tournament over the weekend. When I wished them luck, he said, thanks, but luck wasn’t a factor. No team really loses, he noted.
Everyone gets to play. In fact, everyone gets a trophy. Now, when I was a youth, we experienced losing games, but this conversation made me think about the idea that everyone wins. Really, what’s up with that? When these children grow up, many are going to join companies like mine that are all about winning.
There is a purpose for loss. It is a dangerous thing to shield your children from loss. In fact, experiencing loss will teach them how to cope with life’s failures. When I was the head coach at a facility with at risk youth and at an academy school in California for learning different students, you didn’t get to pick the best players in the community, you had to work with what you had. My team’s attitude was poor towards life. I had to change the culture of their minds.
They came from families with lack, so I wanted to change their image of themselves and the culture they had nothing in common with. I started with their appearance. The first thing I noticed during try outs was that they had old or worn out sneakers and socks. My job was to coach, not do a fashion check, however if I wanted them to learn how to win I had to make them feel good about playing the game.
I bought the team white socks and informed them that dingy socks would not be tolerated. All some children ask for is an even playing field. They lived on campus so they had access to washing machines. The other thing was responsibility; they had to take care of the tools they were working with. I knew giving them socks would cause them to come together as a unit. I also knew that they had to aim their disappointments in a certain direction so it wouldn’t implode at practice. We had to identify the enemy and the enemy was all of those privileged children who thought that they were slow of mind.
As most people know basketball is a cerebral game. People get into players making awesome moves to the basket and then turn the ball over on a critical play. Now I don’t want to make this sound easy, I had some players that had learning differences, so what did I do? Everything it took to get their focus. I did chalk board, video tapes, yelled and walked them through the idea of winning, causing them to become thinkers on the court because I knew their ability was already in place. Parents need to know that their children will eventually develop the ability to play the sport and therefore have a desire to win. Losing will birth the desire to win. Parents are cheating their children out of learning what it takes to win.
This pseudo-scientific rationalization of winning is ruining the very nature of the term sport, which is meant to challenge you. Never losing will cause an unhealthy psychological approach to life. I still get phone calls from these young men and women that played for me thanking me for teaching them how to win. From AAU to C.Y.O from New York to California we won championships and it felt good to win with children that weren’t supposed to win.
I invited their teachers to the games. I told the team we’ll need them to help us beat our competitors. How? Because the success of a struggling child whether educationally, economically, athletically or socially gives everyone a good feeling. Being the underdog is what parents don’t want, how unrealistic is that?