Being Competitive

outfield stanceWe’ve all heard that saying “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. Reaching the goal is not as important as giving your best effort, so give your best, be a good loser, and a humble winner. So what about being competitive? Is being competitive a good thing?

Yes and no. There’s a fine line with really young kids. I believe that being competitive gives us drive, it teaches us how hard we must work to attain our goals, and it prepares us for the very competitive world we live in. Sports can be valuable in teaching real life lessons that we must learn as a child to be successful as an adult.

A friend of mine, James, plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His young boys play football and at the end of the season, they received “participation” trophies. James forced his children to give them back. Why? Because he wanted to teach them the valuable lesson of “winning”. You may think that’s wrong, but I believe that James has a valid point. By definition, a trophy is “a cup or other decorative object awarded as a prize for a victory or success”. James is trying to teach his children that NOTHING comes easy in this life. Participating is a great thing, but you should earn the trophy by winning or showing improvent, sportsmanship, etc, not merely for showing up and I agree. Giving trophies to everyone diminishes the value of an award!

Do you receive a raise at work just because you are there every day? Of course not. You are rewarded with a raise for working hard for the company. Where is the drive for an employee to do anything when they know that they are going to get a raise no matter what?

I know many parents that won’t let their young children play sports because sometimes it’s TOO competitive. I get that. It’s one thing for kids to dream of Super Bowl rings or Olympic Gold medals and to work toward those goals, but it’s something completely different if parents or coaches are pushing them too hard too young and expecting them to achieve more than they are capable of. These kids can get hurt or burned out on the sport and not want to play anymore.

So if you have kids, find a sport that they will have fun playing and a coach that is encouraging while expanding their competitiveness and drive. They’ll learn important lessons in hard work, teamwork, and discipline. I promise, it will make them better at everything and anything in life. It’s true!!!!