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Alright! We Lost!


Today was great!  We lost the game!

Come again?

You read it right.  My son’s basketball team lost their first game this afternoon and it turned out great.

My nine-year old son plays youth basketball in our local parks and recreation league.  It is his first year on the team.  He’s played soccer for a number of years as part of our local AYSO league but this league, and his experiences so far, are much different from his experience with AYSO soccer.

We have a great set of coaches for this youth basketball team.  They’re dedicated, knowledgeable and competitive.  We won our first games of the season, some of the decidedly, and then came today’s game.  All week the boys were anticipating this game.  This team was bigger than they are.  Like us, they were undefeated going in to today’s game.  They had a reputation for playing hard.

We pulled out to a 5 – 0 lead in the first three minutes of the game.  Awesome!  I don’t think their coach was ready for how well our boys played.  He called a time-out and made some adjustments.  The rest of the game went back and forth.  They pulled ahead, then we did, then it was a tie game.

The officiating was another story.  There were some missed calls and a couple of bad calls.  Twice as many team fouls were called against us than the other team.  A lot of pushing fouls were never called.  The boys on the other team were much bigger than us and weren’t afraid to use their size.  The officials missed a lot of what was occurring on the court.  Still, the boys from both benches fought the good fight.  It was an exciting game.  One of the boys on the opposing even made a 3-pointer!  Mind you, these kids are nine!  It was an awesome shot.

One of our boys was hit in the neck (accidentally) and was visibly hurt.  He held back the tears and pressed on.  The officials never called the foul.  On the other side, one of their players was hurt in the groin later in the game.  He, too, fought off the tears, walked it off and took his foul shots.  Everyone applauded his effort.

My son is one of the smaller boys on the team and was guarding a boy eight inches taller than he.  He held his own and I was very proud of his effort.  He wasn’t going to back down from anyone.

The game was tied 12 – 12 going in to the last period (they play five, eight minute periods).  It was the first time all season we weren’t ahead going in to the last period.  Our boys started to panic.  They stopped playing their game and started to play the opposing team’s game.  At that point, I knew we had lost.  We hadn’t lost on the court yet but I could see the boys had already lost… in their head.  We psyched ourselves out of a victory.   Sure the officiating wasn’t fair but that’s not why we lost.

The final score was 16 – 12.  Our first defeat.  The boys were crushed.

Our coaches huddled the team together and they let out a half-hearted cheer for the other team.  As we started to walk off the court , my son started to complain about the officials.    Why?  Because he overheard his coaches and the other players complain about the officiating.  He was making excuses for the loss and I wasn’t buying what he was selling.  I pulled him aside, got down eye-to-eye and raised one finger.  He knew what was coming.

“Stop that.  I don’t want to hear it.  If you don’t learn how to lose, you’ll never know how to win.”

He looked up at me, paused for  second or two and then I could see the tension evaporate.  He walked out of the gym with his head held high.

At that moment I was happy we had lost.  What a great opportunity.  This was a chance to help him learn what really mattered — character.  Sure, his team had lost but what mattered was how he was going to deal with that loss.  The officials didn’t cost his team the game.  They simply lost.  No excuses.  Give the winners their due and move on.  He sure didn’t have any issues taking the big “W” when it was his team on top.

Life is full of loses and we need to face them head on.  Loss, defeat, trouncing.  No one like to come up with the short stick but it happens.

What is important is how you deal with the, okay, here it comes the “F” word — failure.  These namby-pamby programs of “everyone’s a winner” do a disservice to our children and ultimately our society.  We have school systems that won’t had out F grades, and sports programs where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up.  Failure certainly doesn’t boost anyone’s morale but it does build character and character counts.

Try this exercise at work…  The next time you miss a deadline, a sales quota, an SLA, an earnings forecast or end the fiscal year over budget, just look your boss straight in the eye and tell him, “I didn’t fail.  It’s not that important.  My Mommy taught me the only thing that is important as that I tried.” — Balderdash!

The next time your son, daughter, niece, or nephew “doesn’t win” at something don’t shy away from it.  Help them keep their head up high and learn from that loss.  What can they do differently next time?  How are they going to learn from the experience?  Help them build character.

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~ by Marc Hedish on February 14, 2010.

2 Responses to “Alright! We Lost!”

  1. Marc, Knowing both your Son and You, I know this was an important lesson for the both of you, and even more important – that you went through it TOGETHER! What a wonderful father-son moment!!!

    I loved reading this and look forward to your next entries in this blog. It’s fascinating!

    Oded

  2. Very well put. Thanks for this Mark.

    Coach Leonard

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