Jay and Chris

By Jason Sutcliffe

As a kid, athletics was a big part of my life, specifically hockey and soccer. I played a number of other sports recreationally but competitively it was hockey and soccer.

I consider sports to be huge contributing factor in molding me into the person I am today. My parents forked out the money for me to play competitive hockey and soccer at a very young age. I learned young that it may be true that winning isn’t everything—but winning is a hell of a lot better than losing and that it is a lot more fun when you win.

Today I hear parents all the time say, “I would never put my son/daughter in organized sports, it is just too competitive and there is too much pressure.”

To a degree, I can understand that, but this is one of those situations where I have to say that the positives well out weigh the negatives. Sports has a lot to offer young kids; it helps them learn about teamwork, develops their social skills, it can help bring introverted kids out of their shells while building their self-confidence, there is the obvious physical health benefits and in my opinion most importantly it teaches young kids how to be gracious in both victory and defeat. Something which is not just necessary in sports but in life, as life is filled with both victories and defeats.

There is nothing wrong with kids learning about winning and losing. That is part of sports and life. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We are at a point where adults are so focused on sheltering kids, that we want to remove that from youth sports. I find that to be absolutely ridiculous! Do you really think that a group of 8-9 year old kids who are in the middle of a soccer, hockey or baseball game don’t know what the score in the game is or who is winning and who is losing? Come on, you bet your ass they know.

There are adults who are holding their children back from playing sports because they don’t want them to experience losing or pressure to win…Seriously? You are robbing them of so much, so they don’t have a little bit of pressure or so they aren’t a little sad Tuesday night after losing the game.

Sports can be where we create some of our best, longest lasting friendships. All of my closest friends who I have had for over 20 years, I met while playing sports (with the exception of maybe one or two).

I learned through sports that losing at anything is not the end of the world, but rather an opportunity to get up, dust yourself off and come back stronger the next time. I learned that you can’t always win and any time you are working towards a great achievement, that also opens the door for a great disappointment.

After putting myself through this process hundreds of times as a kid playing sports, I no longer fear defeat or disappointment because sports taught me how to deal with it. As an adult I pursue the things I want with a fearless mentality, an expectation for success, but without fear of failure and I have sports to thank for that.

So, by holding your children back from athletics or other things in life because you think they are incapable of handling defeat or failure, is not doing them any favours, but rather crippling them and denying them the opportunity to learn valuable life skills.

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