I had an interesting conversation with Hippy-Love Française last night. We were talking about the importance of our kids getting involved in an activity, a sport, to help encourage them to build their confidence and thus, be strong in mind and body. We both agreed it's important for our kids to be physically active and challenge themselves by learning to ride a bike, go skiing, or even head out for a run. But we disagreed dramatically on one aspect of this whole thing.
For me, competition is important to sport. It's important to learn that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you train really hard and still have a shitty race, sometimes you don't train at all and somehow you still manage to do it all as it should. Competition introduces you to other people and other ideas about a sport that you take personally. It's something that teaches you how to win strong and most importantly, how to learn that losing doesn't equal failure.
I've only won a competition once in my life and that was the day all the good skiers fell down because of ice. Me, freaking about wiping out in front of the hot guy from the University of Wisconsin, I snow plowed the whole first section of the course and managed not to fall. Low and behold, that got me a gold. Good old competition teaching me it's not always about speed.
More normally, I've finished last, near last, or in the bottom half of any race I've ever been in. I'm proud of that actually because learning how to lose has been worth every penny of every entry fee.
Hippy-Love told me a lot of her issues with competition come from the whole hassle of weekends being swamped by tournaments, games, and matches. Busy training schedules and life being organized around sport. It's just too much to ask. "Where is the time for family?" She asked. "Where is the time to just enjoy skiing or judo or tennis?"
I agree with her in theory. The thought of schlepping my kids around for this or that is not my number once choice for a Wednesday evening or at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Especially if all four of them actually get involved to that level. But, once again, getting to that level with a sport teaches you commitment and patience and determination. All things that I need as much help in teaching my kids as I can get.
I'm willing to load up the bateau de route and drive all over God's kingdom to get these people to their practices, their competitions, their 'thing,' because I know, in the end, it's going to help them learn to be gracious in winning, strong in losing, and solid in body and mind. It's through competition that we learn it's ok to not always be number one. Yes, sport is good for sport's sake, but it's through competition that we really learn about ourselves.
Mini-Husband asked me if I won my race on Sunday. The answer was easy.
"Yes. Yes, I did."