Thursday 28 June 2012


A friend of mine the other day was telling me about her son’s baseball team – yes this is the riveting stuff parents often find themselves talking about. In short, the people that run the team wanted to give all the players on the team trophies simply for playing (and not for winning anything). My friend turned down the request to the ire of some other parents and the sages that made this decision to give trophies to the kids for…well, just playing the game.

It brought up an interesting point that seems to come up a lot lately thanks in part to our youtube culture – it hurts to write that sentence and I wholeheartedly refuse to be a part of it. It appears that we have become a society where talent and effort is rewarded far above the substance and quality of that talent. Just peruse the internet and you’ll get a great idea of what I’m talking about, it’s pretty frightening what people think constitutes talent that should be seen and praised by all (no, I don’t care how loud you sing Adele’s ‘Someone Like You.’ You’re still off key and I wish that you would stop).

As a parent, I plan to happily teach the King about winning and losing; one of the cornerstones of life really. You see it every day - people win, and people lose. It’s very simple really and important lesson to get through one’s young head. Merely getting my coffee can be a win-lose situation if they get my order wrong. In terms of sports and working towards a goal of bringing that winning trophy home, I am thoroughly going to explain that sometimes the King is going to win and sometimes he won’t; that's just what sports (and life) is all about. And I shall not sugar coat it, as what is the point, he will figure it out soon enough: winning feels good, losing, not so much. But if he works his little royal tail off and enjoys the game he’s playing, then hey, Mamma will give him a big fat kiss and he’ll feel good for putting in the effort and have fun in the process. As for a trophy, the team that wins, gets it. It’s as easy as that. Maybe if he’s lucky and he is the runner up in the finals at Wimbledon (a mother can dream) he’ll get that dinky little silver plate - god I hate that plate, as I'm sure Andy Roddick does. But most of the time, the whole point of a trophy is that you WIN it. You don’t just get it for showing up.

Cleary the organizers of my friend’s baseball team don’t want the kids to be upset on their watch, and want to reward them for their hard work no matter if they win or lose. I get it. So buy them a cupcake. But teaching children that they are going to get trophies every time they show up to something sends the message that life is going to be far easier than it is. In brutal terms, life just doesn’t work that way and I feel much more at peace explaining this to the King now, than having to deal with him when he realises that later on in life there is no trophy or prize for losing (I'm sure there are exceptions to this, ahem Wall Street). And trust me, I’m not saying this is easy. Even at almost two the kid does not like to lose or go without. In fact, he lost a squirmish with me the other day at the coffee shop when I wouldn’t surrender my bran muffin (I’m not a mean parent, the kid had eaten…and eaten, and eaten, and it was my muffin damn it!) he threw himself on the floor and pitched a fit. No trophies there, my royal muffin.

The other thing to consider as a parent – and a team organizer if you guys are reading blogs in your spare time – is how good it will feel to your child, when they battle on with their team throughout a season and end up in first. I assure you, that trophy will feel so good sitting in their little hands being that it was duly earned. You come in first, you get a prize. You don't, you try again next time (and in some athlete's cases, again and again, and again). Welcome to life my little King. It's game on. 

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