Sportsmanship. It’s the first thing that we try to teach our little ones when they start to play team sports. “Don’t be a sore loser”. And it’s true. It’s hard to lose. It is important to be able to do so with good grace and a cheerful attitude. There’s no argument there.
I just didn’t realize until this last tournament how important it is to learn how to win. I’m not talking so much about attitude here as I am about the experience itself.
My guys team recently competed in a one day, double elimination tournament. The schedule was grueling, especially if you came from the loser bracket. We unfortunately lost our first game, which put us there. If you end up in that bracket
the only way to win, is to defeat every other team in the tournament,
including the one you just lost to.
The guys played back to back matches with no break, no dinner, no down time. Every match went to 3 games (volleyball matches are best 2 out of 3). They played and played and played and won their way out of that bracket.
Championship matches are best 3 out of 5. Our match started at 8:45pm with 7 exhausted, hungry players facing off against a larger rested team. We were frankly just excited to have fought back to be assured of second place.
And then something wonderful happened.
We won the first game of the match.
There was a glimmer of a chance.
We lost the second….
won the third…
lost the fourth.
It was now really late at night, and hungry had given way to famished. Teenage guys do not miss meals. They were facing the tie-breaking game. A game to 15 instead of 25, with winner take all.
I called a time out at what was a 14-14 tie game…. and looked at players who could barely stand up, let alone win. But they were only 2 points from being champions. We huddled, we prayed, we planned, we encouraged; and they went out to win 16-14. It sounds like one of those feel good movies, but it’s really how it happened.
So what’s my point?
For the rest of their lives these guys will remember that God has put more inside of them than they think there is.
They don’t have to lose.
When it’s tough or looks impossible:
give it everything you have
and work together.
You can win. That’s a huge experience and a tremendous lesson. How many times do we give up because the goal looks too hard or impossible?
Excuses are so easy.
Sometimes it’s just as important to learn how to win.
It was hard work, and that is the point.
Congratulations guys, you earned it.