“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise, or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” – Ec. 9:11
Last fall, my seven-year-old came home and begged to join Cub Scouts. All at once I was excited and petrified. Excitement flared because I’m a country girl who participated in Girl Scouts and in 4-H. Then, I realized that I would have to make room in my already overscheduled planner for one more task. I told him that I would think about it and eventually signed him up.
His best friend, who is in his homeroom class and takes Karate at the same dojo, enrolled along with a few kids from the neighborhood. Being the social child he is, I signed him up, dreading it all the while. I knew I was in for countless projects, weekly meetings, and camping trips. We fell into a rhythm and now the year is almost over. Thankfully, I had a chance to skip overnight camping in the fall but will camp overnight this spring. Wish me luck!
This past Sunday our pack hosted their annual Pinewood Derby. If you’re not familiar with scouting, the boys build a car (affiliate link) with the help of a parent (in our case Daddy helped) and then race against members of their troop. As this was our first runs at building a car, it took us well over a month to complete the task. Before leaving for the race my husband said, “I really want him to win.”
To be honest, I did, too. He had worked so hard. As much as we wanted him to win, we wanted him to be a good sport either way. More than anything, we wanted him to learn a lesson in competition: participation shouldn’t be your only motive.
Lately, I’ve noticed the trend of “everyone gets a trophy” because “everyone is a winner”. It is the biggest pile of horse dung. This ideal is causing us to raise wimpy kids who grow into whiney adults. Everyone is NOT a winner all the time. However, if you don’t put forth a winning effort you will lose every time. We have to teach our children to play to win so that they don’t become lazy and depend on the system to reward them simply because they participated. Participation ribbons are good for effort but there is always a clear winner—top 3—top 10, etc.
Being a winner doesn’t mean that you have to be arrogant. Gracious winners are respected. But, bad champs are detested as much as sore losers. Good sportsmanship is necessary for growth in competition.
It is great to teach your child at home that s/he is a winner in your eyes. However, the world is a cold, hard place. The sooner our children come to terms with the spoils of victory and the disappointment of someone being just a little bit better the sooner they will understand that life gives you nothing. Everything you get must be earned.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Boy Scouts has the same ideals. They teach good sportsmanship but they also instill values of hard work and commitment. They gave medals to each and every participant BUT the top three cars in each pack and the overall cars from the troop received trophies.
I won’t say whether or not my son’s car won. What I will say is that his car is the red and blue one in the photo.
How do you feel about competition?