Has Winning Taken a Back Seat?
“It doesn’t matter if I win, lose, perform well, or perform poorly, all that matters is that I have fun.” This sentiment was expressed to me by a young man and share by hundreds of players today. I asked this particular young man, “why is having fun the ONLY thing that matters in baseball?” He scratched his head, gave it some thought and responded with, “it’s what my parents told me.”
Let me first confess that I am in no way advocating a ‘win at all costs’ attitude towards youth sports. I am however highly perplexed at the number of players who seem to share this belief. Even the thought of competing is far less important to the previous generation. Obviously these opinions are those of the player’s parents. Parents who themselves more than likely played competitive sports, or were forced to compete against others for jobs or sales.
While I am still relatively young, perhaps I am a dying breed of player/coach. I still firmly believe that working hard and striving towards winning, or a goal is actually fun in itself. When did baseball become a game that panders to those players who are uninterested in executing plays, winning the game, or at the very least playing the game the right way?
This is a question for parents and coaches. At what age do you believe it is important to teach your children that working hard, being a good teammate, and striving to win the game or achieve your goal is most important? And if your child has reached that age how do you go about changing your child’s thinking? How do you re-train your child to think like a winner?
Every so often I see a young player who wants to win so badly, or fears losing so much that they are labelled as ‘having a bad attitude’ or is a ‘bad teammate’. I see a player who expects more out of himself and his teammates. Often more than his teammates are willing to give. Is it now wrong to expect others to devote as much effort to the game as you do yourself?
While the 2012 London Olympics is fresh in our memories, consider this. Much of what was preached on the Australian networks was “participation.” It is not a stretch to think that participation was the key issue, and not winning. What is this teaching our young athletes? Why is it so wrong to make it known that for every 100m sprinter the Australian Olympic Committee sends to the Olympics, about 1000 of them that were considered not good enough to make the cut?
For you parents, is it okay to tell your child that they can achieve anything in this world if they simply put their mind to it? Is it also acceptable to preach this if you yourself are not there guiding them, pushing them, and making them aware of the hurdles they may face?
Every player who becomes a member of the Diamond Dreams community does so knowing that our coaching staff are there to help them become better players and to achieve their own personal goals. These goals are clearly laid out by player and parents. Our coaches make it abundantly clear that at Diamond Dreams we are in the business of baseball/softball, NOT FUN!
Throughout my coaching career this notion has always well received. Personal development and improvement is fun! Players who enjoy reaching their goals enjoy playing more and love the game more. I am yet to see a compelling argument that contradicts that statement.
For those out there who believe that having fun is all that matters in sport and in life, you are a group of people who simply accepted losing. I wonder how many of you who share this belief own a business, manage a team, or lead a successful life.
Experiencing the excitement and adrenalin that competition provides is what makes sport fun. No matter the result, if you commit to your team and your own personal development you will enjoy your sport!