I stood with my mouth wide open at the baseball field. It was a moment of both shock and sadness. Our son’s baseball team was determining if we were going to forfeit the next game because the team we were playing was better than us. Forfeit a game because we might get beat (“humiliated” was the word actually used). My heart sank for these boys who had given their all this baseball season. My stomach churned because of the lessons that were being taught. Lessons like quitting, giving up, and you aren’t as good as the other guys (talk about a self-esteem drainer).

What has happened to us in America? What have we become as coaches and parents? What will be the implications of this type of parenting/coaching on our children in the future? Only time will provide the answers to these questions, but I think we might see a generation that will grow up to become pansies who can’t handle difficult situations. They won’t know how to take on challenges. When things get tough, they will just quit. They will have low self-esteem because they will constantly be comparing themselves to others who are better than them.

Parents, WE HAVE TO STOP THIS! Out of all the parents standing there, I was the only one to speak up and say, “Play the game!” Some people might wonder why I spoke up to play a game that we might lose, but there are greater lessons to be learned than simply winning baseball games. Here are four lessons that we teach our children when facing difficult situations where they might lose:

  1. Our children will work to get better. A fact of life is that there are people in the world who are better than us. I am a pastor, and I know other pastors who are better than me. I enjoy doing CrossFit, and I could give you a list of people who are better at CrossFit than me. I am a PhD student, and I know some students who are much smarter and better writers than me. Guess what? Just because people are better than me, doesn’t mean I don’t preach, CrossFit, or study for my PhD. It actually does the opposite. These people push me to get better in life. To put it in context, let your children do things in life where people are better than them because that will actually make them become better. If we shelter our kids from people who are better we are planting soil for them to grow into pansies who can’t handle life’s challenges.
  2. Rally the troops for victory. One of the biggest problems in our American society is that we make decisions based upon our perceived results. I only know of one being who knows the future: God. The coaching group was making an assumption that we not only were going to lose, but also that we had already lost. We haven’t played the game yet, so we don’t truly know the outcome. However, nobody remembers when the powerhouse beats the underdog, but everyone talks about when the underdog beats the power house. Why? Because on any day, the game starts at zero and can be won by either team. Think of all the great movies based on true stories like Rudy, Remember the Titans, or The Pistol. We remember and celebrate when David beats Goliath. When our children take on difficult situations, victory is sweeter when they have to work even harder to earn it.
  3. A lesson on humility. Sometimes the opposite might happen. Our children may get beat by a better team. May I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes you and your children are going to get beat at something in life. Our kids aren’t going to get a job or a promotion or an award, and that’s life. Welcome to the world. If we don’t teach our children now how to deal with getting beat, our children are going to walk around like arrogant people. However, their arrogance will prevent them from dealing with being defeated. As a result, their lives will turn out to be disastrous. Do we really wonder why our children are dealing with certain behavioral disorders? Maybe we should look in the mirror and see that we have not trained them how to deal with getting beat in this world.
  4. A lesson about self-confidence. I still think this old saying has some truth to it, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose it’s how you play the game.” As a competitor, winning and losing does matter. However, these outcomes are not the ONLY thing that matters. We want to teach our children to fight and compete, but we don’t want to make life only about winners and losers. We want to teach children that no matter the outcome as long as they gave everything they had they should hold their heads high. This could apply to any results that our children bring home. When our kids bring a report card home and it has a “C” on it, we ask, “Did you do the very best you could?” Their answer determines their self-confidence. As long as they are giving their “very best,” we are proud of them and tell them to keep their head up. Of course, we coach them to move beyond what they “think” their best is, but we still believe that their work ethic and willingness to take on a difficult task is a reason for building their confidence.

To conclude this story, I’m proud to say that the boys stood up and said, “WE WANT TO PLAY!” That moment my heart went from sinking to jumping and my stomach went from churning to whirling with excitement. Parents, we must allow our children to face some difficult scenarios in life because these situations will teach them valuable lessons.

Are there any additional lessons you would like to add? Please feel free to share them in the comments section to encourage others.

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2 thoughts on “Parents, Stop Raising Quitters

  1. Lesson: How to stand up for what you want as a supportive group instead of what you are being lead to do. Just because he’s the coach doesn’t mean he always makes the right decisions.

    Lesson: sometimes it’s all about having fun and having a chance to play in the game… although as an ex-collegiate athlete the competition drive still runs deep in me, sometimes it’s ok to have fun, even in a loss! I stink it up on the golf course, but I don’t not play because of it… I shank it left and right but have a blast chasing it down with the cart while having fun!!

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    1. Kori, than you for sharing some additional lessons. I agree that we can show children how to question authority with respect because in the end, the coach is the coach. If the decision had been made not to play, I would have respectfully submitted to the coach’s authority although I had disagreed. We are all human and make bad decisions so I don’t want anyone to think I’m disrespecting the coach from my post. Therefore, we should stand up, but with gentleness, respect, and humility. Great lesson.

      Secondly, totally agree that we have made some sports at the younger age group levels too competitive. We want these younger athletes to have fun playing the game now so they will want to compete at higher levels later.

      Thanks for your comments they are truly encouraging lessons that can be learned.

      Jeremy Bell

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