At first it was cute. Then they get a little older and things get a little more competitive. You see their stregnths and weaknesses and you try to correct them – only to be met with eye rolls and less-than-stellar effort. What is a parent to do? I read somthing in John Wooden’s book that helps me through:
A Parent Talks to a Child Before a Game
This is your first game my child. I hope you win.
I hope you win for your sake, not mine.
Because winning is nice.
It is good feeling.
Like the whole world is yours.
But, it passes, this feeling.
And what lasts is what you’ve learned.
And what you learn about is life.
That is what sports are all about. Life.
The whole thing is played out in an afternoon.
The happiness of life.
The miseries. The joys. The heartbreaks.
There is no telling what will turn up.
There is no telling whether they will toss you out on your first minute,
or whether you will stay for the long haul.
There is no telling how you will do.
You might be a hero.
Or you might be absolutely nothing.
There is just no telling. Too much depends on chance.
On how the ball bounces.
I’m not talking about the game my child.
I’m talking about life.
But, it is life that the game is all about.
just as I said.
Because every game is life.
And life is a game.
A serious game.
But, that is what you do with serious things.
You do your best.
You take what comes.
You take what comes.
And you run with it.
Winning is fun. Sure.
But Winning is not the point.
Wanting to win is the point.
Not giving up is the point.
Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.
Never letting anyone down is the point.
Play to win. Sure.
But loose like a champion.
Because is not winning that counts.
What counts is trying.
Do I remember the message of this piece in the heat of the battle when the score is close and we have a chance to seal the deal? Absolutely not. But I guess the last line of the poem rings true for me also. What counts is trying.
Throughout my life, sports was a way for me to travel and network. Many of the relationships that I hold dear to this day are ones that were kindled by my participation; whether it be in the form of coaching or direct participation. That is the only thing I want for my children – those same experiences that I had.