Win Win or Lose Lose?

As a parent, there is an indescribable feeling that washes over you as you see your little one take the field. The hours of practice in the backyard, after school, and on weekends finally pays off. In that moment, the amount of money spent on uniforms and equipment no longer seems that expensive. The time spent washing practice uniforms and game jerseys, battling traffic to get them to and from the sport they love so much is undoubtedly worth the sacrifice. You would do it all again to see them look back at you over their shoulder, lopsided grin on their sweet face, as the coach puts them in the game.

What if you never get that opportunity? What if your child never gets that opportunity? What if all the practices and all the effort doesn’t amount to actual playing time?

Go CoogsAs a new sports mom, I’m on the proverbial line of scrimmage on this one. I believe in team sports and the camaraderie that comes along with being on a team, supporting your teammates, and being a part of a whole. I want my child to learn the valuable lessons that come from being a team player, lessons they will be glad they learned when life later presents them with situations where they will need to work within a group. Lessons that will serve them well when that group consists of individuals with unique skill sets, individuals with their own opinions, individuals with different methods for reaching their goals. The reality is that not everyone in the group will be the star player, nor the one with all the solutions, or even the best one for the job at hand. Every participant in the group, no matter the project or the industry, will have to find balance within that group in order to achieve the group’s goals. Some will have a bigger role than others, but all will find satisfaction in the finished product.

In this league in which I’ve enrolled my child, it is my understanding that as in all leagues there is one team that is the team to beat. Let’s call them Team A. This team has a great coach, great kids, and great parents out there supporting these kids. They are the returning champs season after season after season. The thing is, they only play the star players, the ones they know will win game after game after game and secure their champion status.

It makes sense to play your best players in order to secure the win. I get that, but then there’s Team B. Team B also has a great coach, great kids, and great parents supporting these kids. They win some games, but don’t usually take first place or even second place. The difference is, this coach believes in giving all his players time on the field.

We have a decision to make…Team A or Team B? Our seven-year old says he doesn’t care if he’s on the team that wins all the time, he just loves the sport. This will actually be his first time playing a team sport and as his parents we want him to learn the game. I’m just not sure I want him to do that only in practice and from the sidelines on game day. I understand the lesson in being a part of a winning team, and the satisfaction that comes with earning first place. That can serve as motivation to keep at it, work harder, but so can losing. I’m not a fan of leagues that don’t keep score for this very reason. It’s not realistic. Life is about keeping score whether we are competing with others or competing with ourselves. We keep score.

Would you choose Team A or Team B and why?

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22 thoughts on “Win Win or Lose Lose?

  1. I’ve been on both sides of this fence and from years of experience, I would tell you to choose Team B. While I don’t know the folks involved in YOUR “Team A”, I can tell you that the people I encountered when my child was a part of “Team A” were a bunch of idiots… Team B will be much more fun.

    Love your blog, by the way!

  2. I hated watching my son play soccer and I loved it too. When he scored a goal for the first time competing with another team it was real because of the score. He felt heroic for that brief moment. Then, they still lost the game. Disappointment. But, he learned to overcome that and still was the first one at practice.
    Great walk through your team mom life.

  3. Team B – especially when they are young and still learning the game! I remember in 6th grade we had a huge girls basketball team. We were quite good and had a colored sweatband system that organized different types of players (starters to reserves). Sure we won a lot, but we mixed the best players with the reserves too. During tournaments we played to win though. Maybe by middle school Team A starts to overtake Team B.

  4. Ok, Any person that has committed to spend their time with young sports participants (Not yet developed athletes/under the age of 13 should) should not be allowed to be the leader of teams if they do not possess the “Developing the talent” gene. Notice that I did not use the word “Coach” yet? A “Coach” for teams with players that are undeveloped to compete, will naturally coach all players on the team. A person (notice I did not say “coach” who has no understanding of the maturation process required to “Compete” has no business being called a coach. Young people under the age of 13 years have no ability to comprehend the meaning of competition. The ability to compete requires a mature mind just to understand the concepts of competition.

    If your under 13 kid is on a team with a person committed to coach, it is your responsibility as a parent to insure the person coaches. Many times this person is a volunteer or the parent of a kid who, in the eyes of the parent in the next Payton Manning or Pele. This person has no concept of what it takes to be a coach of kids at this age. If the person can’t coach, get your kid off that team and make your statement known. Why let some moron affect the development of your child?

  5. As you said, not every child is built to be a star player! If it is your child’s first time in the league, it would be better for him to start off in Team B so that he’s at least assured of being able to play! It also depends on your and your child’s aspirations down the line regarding whether you would consider moving him to Team A later on!

    • At this age, I think playing and learning the game is more important than winning every game. As he gets older, I’m sure being on a team like Team A will have it’s benefits but for now I think Team B may offer more of what he needs. Thanks for your input!

  6. Team B for me, too! We had a similar experience with my daughter’s soccer team last year. The girls didn’t come in first or second place, but they made great friendships and built many wonderful memories together.

    As cliche as it sounds, they were ALL winners in my eyes!

  7. Just because a child is on Team B doesn’t mean they are encouraged to lose. They all want to win. If you have a loving and nurturing environment at home where winning and losing is part of the game why would you want to have him play on a team where winning is the apparent only option. What happens if he plays on the team and they don’t win. Life is full of disappointments and we need to understand our feelings about them when we are young. Let him pick the team. Needless to say, you’ll be happy with him no matter what happens. A word of caution, if he picks team B, don’t let your disappointment become his.

    • You are definitely “One Old Sage” my friend. The fact that Team A is all about winning is what seems to be bothering me the most. In life you win some, and lose a lot! 😉 It builds character, teaches you how to handle defeat, inspires motivation. I am definitely going to let him choose. After all, he will be the one either enjoying the experience or not. As you say, I’ll be happy with him no matter what happens. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  8. Leah, I root for Team B all the time! I say give everyone a chance to play. These kids are so young and it would be a shame to not let them have a chance to flourish and develop in a sport and give up before they even start. If they are on Team A, they won’t get the opportunity. Some kids are just slower to develop, too, and need more time. Great post.

    My older son has participated in a variety of sports and, indeed, on every team he’s been on, there have been the stars and the ball hoggers. The team may win, but it is not a shared experience. He’s playing water polo now and this is a definite team sport that cannot be won alone! That’s been good for him.

    • I love the point you make here regarding some kids being slower to develop and needing more time. How will they get better or more comfortable with the game, etc. if they only get to watch from the sidelines? I guess practice plays a big role there too, but I’m sure that doesn’t feel the same as playing a bit on game day. I hope you’ll hang around as I venture into the world of youth sports since I need all the experienced mommas like you to guide me!

  9. At the age of seven, Team B. Without a doubt. Regardless of what you say about the coach and parents on Team A being “great,” if they’re all ready in the win at any cost stage with their kids at that age — no, actually, they aren’t great.

    • I love your comments because you are always so direct. At the age of seven, when my little guy is still really in the learning stages of the game, I tend to think more playing time is what he needs. I realize as he gets older that can change depending on his strengths, etc. but for now I would like for him to enjoy playing the game and learn from both the wins and the losses.

      • I have two boys who are now teenagers. I’ve lived the youth sports dream (and nightmare for the last dozen years. I learned a lot as a result. 🙂

  10. Athen, has done both. When I started him out at first we played the YMCA, no one kept score. By his 3rd season he was over it and HE desired more competition. Now he is the starting QB for his HS FB team. He has always been starter for baseball until last year as a sophomore they made him the youngest Varsity player. He sat the bench the whole game almost the whole season. I was the one irritated, cause he plays select and starter on other teams. HE explained to me, ” Mom, I’m learning from this bench, Im paying my dues, then I’ll be on that field the next 2 years being scouted because of this patience and because I did play so competitively for most of my life.” I don’t know if that helps but hrs been playing ball since he was 4 and he is now 17. I love you guys!

    • Hi Amy! I do think many kids who enjoy sports enjoy the competition portion of it as well. I can definitely see Athen’s point about “learning from the bench” but I think that may come later as they get a bit older and have had the opportunity to play. Reading your comment, I have to say I paused a moment to process the fact that Athen is a Junior in high school. What?!! Love you, and thanks for the input. It’s nice to have a friend who has been through it!

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