Grace in losing
No one plays a game to lose. No one does. Last night watching both my teams (Pens and Cavs) lose, I was reminded how important good sportsmanship is, not just to the game, but to life. After the Cavs lost in game 6 to Orlando, Lebron walked off the court, did not shake hands and did not do any post-game interviews. I love Lebron, but immediately, what came to mind was how much my 13 year old son loves Lebron too and how I have been struggling to teach him the importance of shaking hands even after a close or tough game. He gets very angry when he loses. He doesn’t understand that when you lose, you are actually getting better because you strive to BE better and you work even harder for the next matchup.
One of my favorite players is Troy Polamalu. Not only because he’s a beast on the field, but because he really comes to work every Sunday. People can talk about him, tackle him by his hair, but you won’t see Troy being loud, guaranteeing games, or talking smack in general. You WILL see him make the sign of a cross after every play. You will see him play hard. You will see him prove himself by his actions each and every Sunday. He is someone a kid can look up to. He clearly has “good sportsmanship.”
Being a good sport involves not just being a “good winner” but also being a “good loser.”
It consists of fair play, sportsmanship and most importantly character.
The reason that kids should play sports are to learn these elements. Being the best [insert sport] player you can be is tied to both talent and being a good sport.
Even during the combine, players are interviewed as well as have to show their physical talent. That “interview” is done to break into the players psyche – to show their character.
I was really astounded to see some people on twitter say that being a good sport isn’t important. That Lebron just needed to come and play and if they were him, they wouldn’t have done the “shaking hands” thing either. What these folks failed to understand is that these qualities aren’t just exhibited on the court or the field, they are part of life. You can’t always win, you can’t always get your way, and you might not always like that. But being able to deal with failure, in so many ways, is so important to your overall success in life. How you deal with desires, fears, challenges and opportunities is part of character and can be learned through sportsmanship.
Sure, Lebron should be mad. He played his heart out all through the season and the playoffs. It’s not always easy to congratulate the opposing team after a loss. But that does not mean it’s not the right thing to do. He’s better than that. I just wished that in this situation, he had exhibited good sportsmanship.
I’m a firm believer in “doing the right thing.” It’s part of my core ethical values and how I conduct myself in life – not just when I play sports. I learned that from my parents and from playing sports all my life. I intend to share those values with my son.
At the end of the day you can have equal talent with someone, but it’s the little things that propel you to success.