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.