Friday, August 31, 2007

Winning. And Losing.

A lot has been mentioned, especially by the people here in this town that are so proud of them, of the exemplary show of good sportsmanship put on by the Warner Robins Little League team after they won the World Series championship game. You can go here to see it, if you haven’t.

This team could have easily lined up and done the traditional hand-slap down the line, but instead chose to show their respect and compassion for their opponent in what appears to be a kind, sincere, good-hearted gesture.

On the other end of the spectrum is the display by a few of the boys on the Minnesota team, who lost to Arizona and then spit in their hands before walking through the line. Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog very long at all, you’ll know I’m not ABOUT to point any fingers at that one, although I would NEVER name any names (Kellen Escoe). The only difference is those Minnesota boys were caught on camera.

But I was so impressed with how the boys from Georgia handled themselves, and the empathy and maturity they displayed. Also, so sad for the boys on the Japan team. Every time I watch the video on YouTube (and yes, I keep watching it because I’m a glutton for punishment) I tear up when I see those Japanese boys cry at the end. They played just as hard, worked just as diligently, and wanted to win just as badly. By the end of the video, I don’t know if I’m crying due to the thrill of the home run, because I feel so bad for the other team, or out of pride for what our hometown boys did. Maybe I’m just a big fat loser who needs hormone therapy or something, whatever.

I get that not everyone can win. I get that *somebody* has to lose, so that somebody else can win. I just hate that it has to happen to children.

I certainly remember instances in my life when I didn’t win something --- who doesn’t? When I wasn’t elected cheerleader, or wasn’t invited to a birthday party, or didn’t get a part in a school play, or a particular job, or a particular BOY (ahem). Inevitably, bigger and better things happened instead, and it usually wound up being a good thing. But I still remember the sting of losing. It stinks, no matter your age.

This week are the Student Council elections at my children’s elementary school. Any interested 4th or 5th grader can run for class representative. Brayden and Kellen both brought home forms last week asking for permission to run, and I had to tell them both no. Although we are not exactly sure when we’re moving, we do know it will be sometime this school year. I explained to them that Student Council was a serious responsibility, and if they knew in advance they wouldn’t be able to follow through the entire year, then it wasn’t right to run. They were understanding about it, if a bit disappointed. Or, as Kellen put it, “Bummer! Because they get to have a pool party at the end of the year!” (Good to see his sense of civic duty is finely honed.)

Last week all the classes held an open election for any kid who was interested. The top three in each class have spent this week “campaigning”, which pretty much consists of putting up pictures and signs in the hallways. Big, colorful posters in the school with “Vote for Taylor/Kelly/Ashley!” in markers and glitter, and yearbook headshot photos atop Uncle Sam’s body, with an “I need YOU to vote for me!” type slogans. You can clearly see which kids had grown ups to help with the posters, and which kids did it themselves. All of them seen earnest, and sincere, and hopeful.

And that breaks my heart a little bit, because I know later today when they hold elections, some of these kids will lose. Elementary school seems so YOUNG for any kid to discover his classmates voted for someone else. It feels harsh. Just, just .... disappointing …. and harsh. What is wrong with me, that I can’t simply be happy for the winners, but instead feel so guilty and sad for the ones who won’t win? At least they’re TRYING -- they’ve got the courage to put themselves out there and they should be proud of that. But deep down, I cringe a little that they can’t all win.

Kellen told me this morning he didn’t know who to vote for in his class. All three kids running are his friends, and he wants them *all* to win. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

And although I know losing is a part of life, and perhaps it toughens them up a bit, and that it’s going to happen eventually no matter how much I try and protect them, I must confess that I’m grateful for now my children have been spared. There will be plenty of time for trying, and sometimes failing, and sometimes succeeding, later.

I just hope when the time comes for my kids to try something and fail --- lose --- that their opponent is as classy as those little league boys were last weekend.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your town's team winning! I think the only game they lost in the whole series was to a team from Hamilton,OH, a northern suburb of Cincinnati. We are proud of our boys as well!
I totally understand your sadness over someone having to lose. My 9 year old son is experiencing that for the first time as his baseball team held "real" tryouts and a couple of his friends who have been on the team for years, didn't make it. It made my son (and me) cry.
Cincinnati, OH

Anonymous said...

Wow, that video gave me goosebumps! What a great show of sportsmanship. Way to go Warner-Robbins!!

I am one of the most competetive people I know, and I totally agree that it's so hard to see kids lose, not make the team, etc. But, losing is a part of life, and the earlier kids learn that, the better off they will be. We do children a big disservice by teaching them that everyone is a winner, all the time, at everything they try. The best thing we can do is teach our children to be gracious losers and more importantly, gracious winners. The Warner-Robbins team did a fabulous job of being gracious winners. Children need to learn that losing is not the end of the world. Losing should be a motivator to improve, not an end to a competitive spirit. A tough, but necessary life lesson!

Gayle in AL

The Running Girl said...

Winning and losing - both parts of life, but hard to deal with. But classy winners and losers make it easier to deal with. My son's soccer team use to win every single game - by a large margin. My husband moved the team up an age group and they still won. Now they play competitive instead of rec and it's even between winning and losing. But it does help to lose to a classy team. In his tournament this past weekend, my son's team shut out three teams to get to the championship game. One of those teams was a team they ended up playing in the championship game. The other team had a tie and had other teams score against them. It appeared that our team was the better team. In the end, though, it's hard to beat the same team twice, especially in the same day, and my son't team ended up in second place. The other team was class act, however, (parents included) and it made the loss a little more bearable for the boys. They all handled it well and that's the lesson they need to learn in life.

I guess it's kind of good you are moving so they couldn't run. How horrible would it be if one kid lost out to the other? Yikes. Keep us posted on the impending move.

Jeanette said...

GOoooo Warner Robins! Good old Southern Hospitality, on national airwaves.

Lauren said...

Last year, when the middle school where I was teaching had student council elections, one of the many football-crazed boys (named Jake) hung posters that said VOTE FOR JAKE! with pictures of Jake Delhomme, the star player for the Carolina Panthers. He won by a landslide. I couldn't help but wonder if his classmates realized that they weren't voting for THE Jake!

Amy said...

Wow, what an impressive group of young men! Congratulations to them, they won and they acted like true winners should. Alot of major leaguers could take a lesson from them!


Ps...I cried too!

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't have watched that video at bedtime......too many tears!! Thanks for putting the link up to that, Kristie. What a beautiful display of good sportsmanship. Their parents and coaches should be VERY proud.

Our local soccer league gives trophies to every child on every team at the end of the fall season, the winter season and the spring season. No matter HOW your team performs, you're still lugging home three big ol' tropies at the end of the year and we moms have to find a place to fit them! It's so over the top "we have to make the kids feel successful!", isn't it? What's wrong with them feeling "I tried hard, I improved, and I learned something!"??? We're collectively creating all sorts of problems by doing this is my personal feeling. Plus I'm tired of trying to find a *special* place for a bazillion trophies! :)

Mary from Illinois

Mary in Illinois

Anonymous said...

My gosh, that made me weep! I can understand why you are so incredibly proud of your Krall boys, man, I am proud of them too....soooo classy! I love it :-) No doubt, the Japan team will also remember that moment for their whole lives and as heart broken as they were, I bet they will take it with them and 'pass it on' in the future. Outstanding!
You know, tasting that bitterness of defeat makes the victories that much sweeter, as I always tell my sons. One of my favorite quotes is thus, 'Winning isn't always a victory and losing isn't always a defeat.' I think ALL the boys were winners on this special day.
Have been catching up on your blog tonight after a week or so happy to hear that Blaine's surgery went well and that nothing traumatic happened to your Mom! :-) And I agree, Blaine is just as handsome as ever, a hottie he is :-) Also loved your final photos of your cruise and am sad to see it all end...but I just wanted to ask, was that first pic a porpoise, because with the black and white, it looked more like a killer whale to me???
Congrats again to your World Champs, how exciting for the whole city!!

Tracey in Calgary

Amy Grosso said...

I am catching up late on the last few journals as we have been away at Camp Sunshine in Maine (great retreat for families touched by cancer) anyhow, thank you so much for posting the video of your hometown team winning, and I admit I cried seeing their demonstration of respect that was handed to their fellow challengers. WOW, I have an 18 yr old son who has played sports for ever and I have seen some awful things done and some wonderful and I always pray I have taught my children the proper way of losing since we all know adults who were surely not taught by their parents..sigh...
I don't think I have ever left a comment, but I surely enjoy coming here with my morning cup of Joe
Amy Grosso fellow all-kids mom
Syracuse, NY

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way watching that game. I was crying my eyes out!!! for so many different, because they won and we were proud, two, because those little Japanese boys were just that, little boys that wern't even trying to hide their tears, they were SOBBING! and this Mama felt like they needed their Mamas, and then lastly, because those little boys from Warner Robins just hugged them and tried to tell them they did a great job, even though those little boys probably didn't understand a bit of English but I'm sure they understood the reason for the hugs.

Meg from Americus

Anonymous said...

Hi. I've never written on a Blog before but I read your comment about the Minnesota boys, and being from Minnesota, I felt sick to see the boys act like that.

My husband has coached kids sports for 16 years, and I can tell you the most embarrassing time he ever had was when his own kid acted stupid when he spent all year coaching the other kids to not act stupid!

I felt the coaches mortification since his own kid was one of the kids to spit in his hand.

In the end... they are kids and as we all know - they never cease to embarrass or surprise us...

Hopefully everyone out there will know that Minnesotans are proud people and would never stand for that... willingly!

Glad to hear your family is doing better.... my son is on year 6 being Leukemia free! (he's 17 now) YEA.