Sunday, June 4, 2017

My son is a loser, and that's ok with me.

My son is 7yrs old and is one of the best humans ever. He is smart. He is funny. He makes friends easily and he enjoys playing soccer. In the fall season his soccer team had 15 players that regularly showed up. He would not usually start the game, but would sub in and play about half of the time. They had a winning record. He learned many basic skills and enjoyed practice.

Spring season rolled around and he asked to play again. At the first practice there were about 7 boys. At the first game there were 6. His second game came along and they had to forfeit because only 5 players showed up. The other team had 14 so they shared a few players and they enjoyed a scrimmage. This spring season has been tough to watch. A few games were lost by 7 goals. My son played goalie a few of those times. Baseball and Lacrosse are more popular in our town this season and that is ok. My son’s team has lost every game, and that is also ok.  Learning to lose gracefully will help him. I keep my son in soccer for him to learn.

My hope is my son learns to be a good loser. That he learns to love his body and wants to keep it healthy. My hope is my children understand different sports and learn to follow rules. That they figure out strategy and teamwork. What I want my son to learn is not how to win. I don’t care if he ever wins. I realized long ago my kids probably won’t be olympic athletes. My kids won’t be movie stars. My kids are pretty average and that is ok because most people won’t win a gold medal or an oscar award. But most people will be employed someday. Most people will be married and have children.

My son is technically a loser but he never shies away from attending his games or practices. After practice I ask what he learned and if he enjoyed it. After each loss my only question is “Did you play your best?” As long as he can honestly answer yes I’m happy. I’m the mom who thinks kids younger than high school should receive a participation award. It is hard work to win, but it is hard to show up when you know you’re likely to lose. Most will lose and that is ok when you’re 7. Let’s teach our kids that losing isn’t the end. Cheer for the kid who scored a goal even if it was your son that missed the save. It might be that kids’ first goal ever. Congratulate the other team on their hussle. And thank the coach and refs. Let’s teach our kids what sports are really about.

My son is amazing and works hard. My son loves to play soccer. My son feels disappointed when the other team scores, but my son plays his best and that is a win enough for me.


  1. I agree with much of this. It is well written, and certainly a fine way to look at youth sports. I don't have a problem with winning and losing. I was NEVER on a good baseball team in the 9 seasons I played as a youth, and lost several games by over 30 runs. I kept playing. I still play sports, and I found ways to improve and enjoy it. There is so much fierce competition in youth sports and far too much specialization at young ages. Kids are getting "Tommy John" surgery in their early teens now bc they are pushed to pitch too much. I think you need to know your kids. If they are competitive and driven, see if they will use that to make themselves better and achieve more. If they are there for fun, then be sure they attend all practices, games, and give their best effort. I have two kids. Neither will go pro, but both have participated in many sports, and have both successes and failures, but they keep coming back. I'm not a fan of the participation ribbons and trophies from middle school on. I know we got them as kids even back in the 80's, it's not just a new thing. I always kept those trophies, but was a little embarrassed to show them off. I knew which trophies I had actually earned, and I feel like the jersey, and the hat are your participation trophies, and they don't even collect dust! Nice job, Mel.

  2. Love this. Thanks, Melanie. In this intensely competitive world of children's sports, it it a common conversation between my husband and I...we just want them to try their best and be teachable. There is so much value to sports in growing our children's character.