Recently, I spent a nervous evening in front of the television, decked out in red and white attire and was almost swayed back into religion, as I hoped for a miracle in New Orleans. Despite the Superdome being the home stadium of the Saints, no miracle was to be found for my team, the Arkansas Razorbacks.
At the end of the game, as I watched the dejected faces of the team mirroring my own frown, I wondered what message was being sent to my two boys.
As a true Southerner in America, the fierce spirit of competition runs through my veins. In Arkansas, we are raised believing in God, the Flag and our Hogs (the team, not the animal). I have grown away from the first two, but the third one remains my passion.
As the mother of two athletic, high energy boys, I have encouraged them, sometimes a bit rabidly, to participate in sports…
However, my boys are not named LeBron and their last name isn’t Manning; they are talented but not superstars. They are the ones that may sit out a few plays and sometimes they may not play at all. They are the ones who are truly playing just for the love of the game, not to obtain a college scholarship or a professional contract. Although, when they do get in the game, I yell just as loudly as if they are the superstars on the team.
Isn’t that the point? Aren’t sports supposed to teach our children teamwork, dedication, trust and discipline? Don’t we tell them that it’s not whether you win and lose but how they play the game? This is a mantra that I must repeatedly tell myself because let’s be honest, most of us want to see our child be the MVP (most valuable player) of the team.
Many nights, I rushed from a long day at work and ignored an always large volume of homework, just so I could cheer for one of them. Yet, many nights, I sat and watched one of them hold down the bench. It was extremely hard not to berate them and interrogate the coach as to why said child was not getting play time.
Deep breaths. They are only children. It’s not whether they win or lose…..
As a sports mom, over the years, I have sat through various football, basketball, soccer and baseball games. Without fail, there is always one parent who loses their mind during the game. They might yell, curse, boo or a combination of all three.
My goal has been to never, ever be THAT parent. Proudly, I can say that I have never cursed at a game. At least, not out loud…
Yet, when my boys do take the field, I cheer like a mad woman for them. It is never difficult to determine which child playing belongs to me. I want them to know, without a doubt, that I am proud of them despite the fact they aren’t scoring the winning points. The losses have been hard to watch, but hopefully, I have maintained a happy face for them. In the long run, organized sports should be something they remember fondly.
When one of the boys has missed a shot or the team has lost a game, I always applaud and tell them “Well that was a good try.” As they have gotten older, they roll their eyes and ignore me. Deep down, I hope they are smiling. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Currently, our culture places such a great emphasis on being perfect and winning at all costs. My parenting skills may not be conventional, but passing on a desire in life to find enjoyment in everything we do is high on my list.
With all that being said, on Tuesday night, I hid my disappointment over the Razorback’s Sugar Bowl loss with all the strength that I could muster. It’s only a game. They played extremely hard in the second half. They tried. They did their best. There’s always next season. It was only a 5 point loss.
Then, I went in the bathroom, turned on the shower, cursed and cried.
It’s not whether they won or lost. It’s not whether they won or lost.
How do you encourage sportsmanship in your children?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Margie Bryant of Arkansas, USA. She can be found on Twitter @TheHunnyB.
Photo credit to Margie Bryant.