DONT ARGUE WITH A LINEBACKER
So this is an issue we get asked about a lot and actually has a really simple answer. It starts like all puzzles with the key question. Why! Why do organisers feel that they should give trophies for participating, and the common response is that they don’t want some kids to feel left out or upset.
First off some kids are supposed to feel that they couldn’t do enough this time so that it drives them to want to practice. When you learn to walk as a baby you fall over and then try again that’s how we learn. The key is not to make today’s performance a definitive view of your potential. Competition is supposed to be a mirror to your learning, a yard stick for you to measure where to go next.
The second point is that competition must not be seen as a formal judgment process. So now we give trophies to the winners how do we stop this? Just calm down on the trophy ceremony. We don’t have to make it like the forth of July celebration and we don’t have to just award the winner, there are other achievements in progress and behaviors that deserve praise.
Third, understand the origins of sports. If you are thinking the Olympics stop and go way way back before that. Sport started as a way of training armies to work together. Playing games was a way to build connections and skills so ask yourself if your environment supports this.
Fourth, we are social animals and if you make enemies not friends you are unlikely to come back. I am not saying it’s bad to have a nemesis on court but what about off court? What does that look like, have you built an environment for both kids and parents to socialise and do you manage this like you manage the on court environment. Remember the work club means “people like me!”
Fifth and probably the easiest answer. Would you be surprised to know that every player gets given something for playing an event at the pro level? I am not talking prize money! At the start of each event at sign in players are given their accreditation, a simple lanyard with details. Plus if it’s big event a goody bag, towel etc. The key here is that this is not a trophy! Trophies and medals are for achievements, but it is something that makes people feel important and not left out! Sound familiar? Well there is one other this that differentiates this from trophies. It is given at the beginning!
On a big picture scale let me use this metaphor! I am part of a global movement. GARTE, it stands for the Global Alliance to Remove Tomatoes from Earth! No it’s not a real thing although it should be but I absolutely hate them and always have! As a torture at 12 a girl I wanted to date wouldn’t go out with me unless I ate a whole one in front of her. I battled through and she still didn’t date me! But before you think I am rambling let me tell you I do eat them but mixed up with other things. I love pizza, and cooked in other dishes and I have even been known to manage them in salad. What I am trying to explain with this culinary metaphor is that if you think losing is hard to swallow mix it up with some others things. Kids will get the lessons that competition is supposed to teach them but it won’t be the only thing they take away.
So do I agree with James Harrison, of course I do! Who is gonna argue with a 275lb linebacker! Go Steelers!
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