How Competitive are You?
Tonight we’re not gathering around the table with a family board game. Instead we’re hanging out on the couch with pizza and popcorn watching college football (“American football” to our international friends) and cheering on our alma mater.
It’s that time of year when football fans everywhere cheer on their favorite teams. They celebrate and savor the victories for days and bemoan the losses for even longer.
When their team is winning you’ll hear them talk in terms of “we” – as in “We just can’t be stopped!” and “We’re #1!”. But when their team is losing, you’ll often hear the terms change to “they” – as in “They just can’t hang on to the ball!” and “They sure played lousy.”
Of course, this happens in a lot of competitive games.
As we wrote about recently, our family thoroughly enjoyed watching the 2012 Olympics together. Watching exceptional athletes compete on the world stage was a lot of fun.
With kids going back to school, it’s also the time of year when many youth sports teams are back in action. Our kids love playing soccer (football) and so do I. I still play on an indoor soccer league and have a lot of fun. I’ve also loved coaching youth soccer for about 10 years now.
But one thing that continues to amaze me – and we read about it too frequently – are the extreme instances of hyper-competitive parents and fans that get into fights on the sidelines. It just baffles us.
Even in our adult indoor soccer game last night, a player on the other team stormed off the field cursing up a storm as soon as our team scored a go-ahead goal with a few minutes left in the game.
All these thoughts coming together have made me wonder how competitive I am.
My wife says I’m a competitive person and that’s one reason why I like playing board games. To some degree I think she has a point. I love the challenge and battle of wits. And I always like to do my best.
However, I also know that my level of competitiveness has diminished with age. It’s all a part of being able to put things in their proper place. And that comes a lot easier with more life experience.
We all know stories of kids throwing toys, flipping boards, and stomping around when things don’t go their way. They haven’t had as many life experiences yet to put things in perspective. But even with that in mind, not all kids are the same and some have a tougher time learning this important lesson*.
It’s usually more apparent in kids that are very competitive. But being competitive isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just look at those Olympic athletes.
Our job as parents is to teach our kids that even if they’re competitive, they can still be a good sport. They can still learn to lose gracefully (and win gracefully as well).
And the best teacher is our example – whether it be from the sidelines or around the family board game table. Go kids!
And go BYU Cougars!
* The sad stories are when adults haven’t learned these important lessons yet.