Q: Dear Mr. Man.
My kid plays in a sports league that doesn’t keep score. How do I teach him about winners and losers?
A: My son, JC, plays in a church basketball league (which I have coached for the last three years). The league is an outreach to our local community to expose kids and parents to our faith who may not otherwise come to know the Lord. As a coach in this league, the goal is to love on the kids with the love of Christ and, if we could squeeze in the fundamentals of basketball, then that was the bonus. This year, I was unable to coach due to an ankle injury (previously mentioned in another post in this blog). So Adi, Bae, and I sat on the sidelines and cheered for my son and his team every Saturday morning.
We would really get into the action. We would yell and holler from the sidelines with every great pass and spectacular shot. We would watch the kids run up and down the court while occasionally having to stop to tie their shoestrings.
Every parent in the stands knew that there was no official score, but that did not keep parents and coaches from keeping their own tallies.
After each game, JC would look at me with a certain pride in his eyes and say, “We won, Daddy. Didn’t we?” Although I had it in my mind who won the game, I wanted to support the goal of the league, because the lessons are invaluable:
JC: “We won, Daddy. Didn’t we?”
Me: “Everyone was a winner today, son.”
JC: “How can that be, Dad, when we got more baskets than ’em?”
Me: “Because everyone is a winner in God’s eyes, JC.”
I talk to him regularly about good sportsmanship. I talk to him about allowing an opponent to lose with his dignity intact because , if he loses, he would want the same. I let him know that I believe that how the contest is fought is more important than who wins or loses the game. I tell him to be proud of his effort and to accept criticism for what its worth. Although these are difficult lessons for him to understand, I pray that one day my words will be remembered as well as the lessons I try to impart.
I understand that if I don’t teach him the right way to man up, he never will.