Voice of Real Australia: What sport teaches us about winning and losing – Whyalla News

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today’s is written by Canberra Times lifestyle reporter Karen Hardy.
Anybody who thinks sport is not about winning is a loser.
Perhaps I’m being a tad harsh. There was a time I just enjoyed watching my kids play, watching them run around on a freezing cold Saturday morning, the fog just lifting from the fields in a surreal kind of way, the result the furthest thing from my mind. Look at the glow in their cheeks, the almost balletic teamwork, the rapture of it all. I think it was August 11, 2007. 8.30am to be precise.
Anyone who knows me knows I think sport is a fabulous thing. There is a lesson in every team, in every session of overtime, in any pass, in any win, and particularly in every loss. At its best, sport mirrors the highs and lows of life, the joy of success, learning how to deal with failure, how to deal with teammates, how to learn your own place in the scheme of things.
I’ve just come back from a two-week stint in Cairns, representing the ACT at the Hockey Australia Masters Championships at the over 55s level. Even after 50 odd years of hockey I still learned plenty of things, on and off the field, at this tournament.
We were joking on finals day, which we weren’t participating in, finishing a credible fifth, as we were loitering near the trophy table, which was placed precariously close to the bar, that we would have enjoyed receiving an “I played in a hockey carnival” ribbon. Ageing Gen Xers that we are, mocking the whole idea of playing for fun.
If you’re looking for competitive people, check out the women in the over 65s division. They’ll teach you a lot about winning and what it has meant to them over the years.
I was disheartened, catching up with the news, to hear the NSW Rugby League have signed off on a plan to abolish competitive games until the age of 13 and ban tackling until midway through the under sevens.
Part of me understands banning tackling until the kids have had time to learn correct technique and the like.
What I do have trouble with is the idea that competition is a bad thing. That wanting to win is a bad thing. That we need to protect our kids from losing. How about we give them all a prize in pass the parcel and be done with it. Oh hang on, that’s what we’ve been doing for years now. And now we have generations of young adults who don’t like to be criticised, who feel entitled to things they haven’t worked hard for, who don’t know the meaning of the word humility, and bandy around the word resilience like it’s something we should all be born with.
I’ll admit I’m not a good loser. Life is full of losers. I am one. A big one. But we shouldn’t encourage losing. It becomes a habit. In sport and in life. It’s not so much the losing but the effort. Nothing frustrates me more than teams not playing to their potential or not improving over a season. How do you motivate kids to improve if no one is keeping score? Does improvement stop mattering? Does the idea of teaching them skills that might enable them to score more tries – or let fewer in for that matter – have no relevance when the number of tries is no longer relevant? There’s one for better coaches than me to ponder.
And speaking of coaches, I remember a line from American Football coach Mike Berg, who had a 40-odd-year career coaching high school teams. He once said “If we’re only teaching them how to play the sport then we’re failing them big time”.
Sport teaches us so many things. How to win, how to lose, how to do both with class and take those lessons into the real world.
No matter what regulations and rules are put in place, I can guarantee you someone will be keeping score. That’s life.
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I've covered a few things here at The Canberra Times over the years, from sport to education. But now I get to write about the fun stuff – where to eat, what to do, places to go, people to see. Let me know about your favourite things. Email: [email protected]
I've covered a few things here at The Canberra Times over the years, from sport to education. But now I get to write about the fun stuff – where to eat, what to do, places to go, people to see. Let me know about your favourite things. Email: [email protected]
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