Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Five Lessons In Sports I Learn From My Kids

O God please help me to win for i always want to win,
But if in thy inscrutable wisdom thou willest me not to win,
Then make me a good loser.
For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name,
He writes
Not that you won or lost,
But how you played the game.

Last Sunday, my son took part in his first real competitive event. We registered him for the Under-10 event, which meant he will be competing against older boys. There were a few events that all participants will take part in namely the 100m, 200m and 400m sprint. Then there is the Tug-o-Skate and a few other "fun" event so everyone will have fun.

My son has been roller-blading for the past almost 1-year. Skateline at TTDI is the school that offer structured classes and tiered grading to ensure the students are ready for more complicated moves all in the intention to make them a more complete skater. In the past 1-year of involvement, my son has moved up only 2-stages. All Students have to pass the first basic course to learn, among others how to stand up with skates on and now to fall correctly.
Heads up, palms down, fingers up
The Sports day was an opportunity for the students to mingle with other skating school students. What I immediately noticed was how different the approach of teaching and coaching were between different skating schools. Lets just say, comparatively, safety is the utmost criteria for Skateline as opposed to others I've noticed where all you need is well, a skate.
Stiff Competition
The event opened up my eyes on how competitive some children are nowadays. Many of them were in their element. Focused. Fearless even. Zooming out I noticed that the level of competition correlates with the children's surrounding and the adults that train, coach and provide for them.
Maximum SPEED! 
To a large extend, i felt a bit left out that I did not "share the same competitive" passion with my kids. Then i remembered the RMC Sportsman's Prayer (above) and this particular phrase

But if in thy inscrutable wisdom thou willest me not to win,
Then make me a good loser.

Me and my wife always believe that we can't win all the time in life. Something got to give. Some we chance along our life are arrogant winners and many are not used to losing. We have our fair share of encounter with bad losers (read : sore losers) where everything is "other's fault" and never theirs. While winning is always good, losing is actually better (just don't make it a habit or excuse to do badly all the time). 
don't hold your breath yet...noticed the coach's finger on the right side?
I was a happy man on Sunday. You see, my son did not do too well in all the sprinting events he entered. He came up last in all in what me and my wife terms as "fashionably slow". We know he tried his very best. In fact, he did not want to come up last, but the fact is that he now realised he is not "as fast as he thought". 

Me and my wife, or our families (extended) do not have any sports gene. We don't expect the kids to inherit any and a lot of these will be based on hardwork if he wants to improve. But is he ready? Perhaps.
In the 200m event, he was determined to do better than his last showing in the 100m. But as luck has it, he took the wrong line being confused on the direction he was supposed to go (a lot of this got to do with him not listening to instructions when the coach told everyone you can go LEFT or RIGHT around the roundabout). He clipped off another participant, but luckily, he was the only one falling. 

Below is the video of the 100m sprint and the 200m fall that happened to him. Short it may be. But you can see the level of competition amongst the kids.
He finished the race (200m) last and he knew it was his mistake clipping the other participant off. As a parents, i did break my heart to see him shedding some tears while nearing the finishing line.
It's ok.
Compassion. That is lesson number 1 if you want to take part in Sports. Never look down on the losers as one day, they will end up as a winner. I assured him that all is OK. His only mistake was following the group to go left when his line was right. He picked himself up, despite the knock on the bum and carried on to finish it. 
Then, the 400m sprint. Demanding for kids as this requires both strength and endurance. This time around, he wasn't last until a fellow participant fall. What surprises me next was him slowing down to check on his friend. I heard it loud and clear as my son asked : "Are you ok?" 
As he and the boy skates off, the last placed participant overtaking them and my son skating back "fashionably slow". 
From Lesson 1 : Compassion, he has learnt Lesson 2 : Empathy. I was a happy man. I know my wife was too. 
It is also about helping while in competition
The last event was Tug-O-Skate. A modified version of the Tug-O-War but using skates. It was super tough staying vertical as everyone kept slipping and falling. 
Never give up when down
That was when he learnt Lesson 3 : Team work and Lesson 4 : Not giving up when down. After three rounds of tugging, falling and pulling, his team won. He was a happy boy. Victory for him that late morning came late, but it came to him nevertheless.
Good job boy!
Which brings me to Lesson 5 : Passion. Staying hungry to be better than what you already are is the best way to improve. This is not his first "medal", as he has in the past won in other sporting events. For a 7-years old boy starting out rollerblading as a way for us to allow him to learn to take instruction from other adults (preparing him for his life later?), he has been the most consistent attendee for classes held on weekend. It takes a lot of passion, and mind you, no forcing from myself and wifey, for him to get up, gear up and go do what he likes. 
That one morning itself, my kids has reinforces back into what I've always believe when we indulge in sports. Have compassion, for that we will have empathy. Always be a team player and never give up. Keep the passion high and you will bound to be a useful person when you grow up (or old). 


  1. Sports. Builds character. He will grow up to be a fine young man.

    1. We all can only hope he will. :) We provide, he will chart his own path.

  2. as parent, i only hope the kids try their very best in anything they do. winning is not the goal, try their best and have fun along the way is the goal.

    you and the wife raise them well, he will be a great person when grow up.

    fashionably slow is my motto in any race leh :)

    1. Correct. Winning is not the only goal. For some, it is the only thing that mattered.

      Lets hope and and the sister will be good people when they grow up. We as parents can only hope.

      And sir, that is my motto too ;-)

  3. Lovely write-up. You guys have the right attitude and I hope he will always maintain his compassion and passion - win or lose!

  4. good write up .. this is inspiring.. !!!

  5. Good story. I agree that kids need to learn about losing with grace. Not good for them to win all the time, otherwise I notice they have a tendency to get overconfident.

    1. It is about setting expectations for yourself and for them. There is no shame in losing, only shame in not trying.