Some time ago I observed a scene I found disturbing. I was at a student track meet and they were running the 4×100 relay. As the anchor leg for what would be the second place team crossed the line, the runner ran out of the fence surrounding the track past me, sat down on a step, and proceeded to cry. Now this was not a silent cry but those of us in the general area could see and hear her. All of this because the runner got second place, and at this point I realized something; no one can lose.
Losing has been redefined. No longer is losing just the fact that you met someone that was better, or they had a better day than you. Today losing is an attack on your character, it says that you are less than a person; you’re not man or woman enough. And students are getting this message loud and clear.
Now if I am honest I would have to say that I hate losing. My wife would tell you that I can not stand losing, but I think I am getting better. One of the ways I have gotten better is by losing on purpose. I am learning to find joy in putting myself on a team that may not win, so that I can get beat by middle school students. This is a worth while lesson for me to learn.
Somewhere students have gotten the message that losing makes you a loser, which could not be further from the truth. Sometimes you learn more from losing than you do from winning. This is how I learned to play disc golf. I played with people that were much better than me, and lost badly. But if I had played with people that were at my level, I would have never gotten better.
We must help students lose graciously, because no one in life wins all the time. Everyone is going to lose at something at some point. But losing only has this stigma because we value winning so much.
Students value winning more than integrity or playing right all the time. They will lie, cheat, and steal to win. Because winning drastically outweighs fair play. It does not matter how you win as long as you win. And this is a big deal. Students carry this attitude to college, and now is there any wonder why cheating in college is viewed as something that is not a big deal. And these people are going to be professionals one day.
They are going to handle our food, money, and lives. I am not sure I want this attitude keeping track of my money, or operating on my heart.
So why don’t we turn losing into what it really is, not a big deal. Life does not hinge on that pick up basketball game or game of Twister.