With grand final day upon us and the end of winter sports season, it has got me thinking……… Do we place too much emphasis on the results of sport? Is watching the West Coast Eagles beat Collingwood in the dying minutes, good or bad for our kids to watch?
There is sometimes a very fine line between enjoyment and stress, physical health and mental health. As the TV cameras pan around to the Collingwood players, it is plain to all, the disappointment and despair they are feeling.
As a parent of children playing sport, we want them to have a positive experience. We should first and foremost want our kids to enjoy what they do. Want them to build friendships and relationships with their mentors and coaches. To build resilience, self control and strength as they negotiate the ups and downs.
In Australia, there has been a big push to shelter children from losing, with many sporting organisations opting not to have winners and losers or a season ladder. Everyone wins. This means children are being introduced to losing at an older age theoretically when they should cope better. However, often the opposite happens. Kids grow up not knowing how to lose graciously. They are entitled and think they should always ‘win’.
But that is not real! Sometimes in life, we do lose (unfortunately).
Our family experienced our own grand final this week. After weeks of training, weeks of planning and co-ordination it all came together. And just like The West Coast Eagles, we were winners! The kids were absolute stars, all of them. They had the most wonderful experience because of the support they had around them, from the coaches, organisers and parents.
But, it was not without some lows. There were penalties at crucial moments, homesickness, illness, injuries and parents who missed matches because of work or other commitments. There were tears……..lots of them, both of joy and of disappointment.
Someone said to me…….. “It is only a kids game, why are you placing so much importance on it?”.
I have thought about it and my answer is……. because it matters. Not whether they win or lose but because of the lessons it teaches them. Kids need to know what it feels like when things don’t go according to plan, just like they need to know what it feels like when hard work pays off. They need to know it is ok to feel like those Collingwood blokes, broken on the floor. Because, they also know they will see them stand up and fight again next season.
It has been a highly emotional and exhausting week. To all the players, coaches and supporters out there, well done. To the parents of kids……. we have a tough job. Encouraging but not too encouraging. Nervous but not too nervous. Proud but not too proud. The last one is the hardest!!!
It is time to breathe a sigh of relief! It is over until next year.