Good Sport

Two of my grandkids play organized sports – basketball, soccer, softball and baseball. There are plenty of good reasons to play: health, socialization, teamwork, discipline and commitment. In my opinion the best reason for young children to play sports is to learn good sportsmanship. Winning is fun but learning to lose with grace is a gift. Statistically most grade school students are not destined to become professional athletes, however most will have to learn to deal with disappointment, failure and loss in their lives. So being a good sport is more about being good and less about sports.

Recently my nine year-old granddaughter played in a basketball game. The coach on the opposing team screamed at the top of his lungs throughout the entire game. He was truly hostile. He berated his players, he yelled at the referees, he shouted direction and correction non-stop. He was a textbook example of poor sportsmanship. How sad for the young girls on his team – several of whom shouted back at him to “shut up!” during the game. I was dumbfounded. This is 4th grade basketball in a Catholic school! It was hard to watch.

My first reaction was to give this guy a piece of my mind and then to send an angry letter to the Athletic Director of his school or the pastor of his parish or the Archbishop. But then I decided my energies would be better directed in a more positive way.

So instead here’s my open letter to Anna’s coach:

Dear Coach,

Anna B-ballThank you for your kindness toward my granddaughter. Thank you for your time and talent with these precious girls. Thank you for helping them learn and letting them have fun. I know that Anna loves her team and loves to play. I also know that she lacks height and talent but she has heart and soul. You are teaching her valuable life lessons: teamwork & team spirit, willingness to try harder, self-confidence, and most importantly good sportsmanship. She may be the tiniest player on your team but you and I both know that she is almost always the first to take a knee when a teammate is hurt. You can teach her to play tough but you are also teaching her compassion. Thank you for your good example.

God bless you,

A Grateful Grandfather

It’s interesting to me that during that awful game, my seven year-old grandson leaned over and said to me, “The other team is winning but Anna’s team is playing a better game, because they’re being good sports.”

Out of the mouth of babes…

Peace,

Denis

 

 

 

 

 

London 2012 (Olympics British Style)

Welcome to London (sort of)

I find it a bit amusing that the Olympic Games are here in London and I’m in England and doing my level best to avoid it all. Traffic is being diverted or restricted. There are special “Olympics” lanes on the Motorway and on the streets in London. Heathrow has designated special “Olympics only” car parks. We are constantly being told via the telly and the radio to “avoid the games” or to “plan ahead” or “be prepared for long queues”. It’s not that daunting to me but I’m not English.

I love sports. I love the competition. I love the history. I love the National pride teams get to put on display. I love the celebration of it all. But I would be the odd man out if I got too excited about the Games.

I think it’s because here in the United Kingdom we are a bit too pragmatic. We (collectively) are convinced that for most of us the Games will be a bother. Things will go wrong. And it will cost the taxpayers money. Some of this is proving to be true. The security firm that was awarded the contract was woefully unprepared and understaffed, so British troops have been deployed to support the security effort. Delays with traffic and congestion at the airports is only being magnified by a threatened strike by the Public and Commercial Services Union (those joyless souls that stamp your passport). Somehow this will probably cost the public, too.

Now there have been some bright spots along the way, such as Bradley Wigguns winning a gold medal in cycling and strong swimming by Michael Jamieson. And a gold medal win for Women’s rowing. It was also fun to see Zara Phillips’ (Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter) Esquestrian team win silver. She’s the first royal to win an Olympic medal.

Of course the joy is dampened by reports of empty seats while there is still a shortage of tickets for events and the rain (literally). Not to mention controveries with Badminton and Gymnastics and the Chinese and South Korean teams and a fatal crash with an official Olympic coach bus and motorcyclist.

My workmates say things like, “I knew it would be a disaster” or “none of this is a surprise to me”. Always the glass half-empty! There seems to be some perverse pleasure from being right about things going wrong. I’m not sure if this is a British thing or not but it seems pretty prevalent with the folks that I’ve come to know here. It’s almost as if there is some honor in being able to suffer through and make do with disappointments – keep a stiff upper lip – if you will.

So yes there is Olympic pride and there is a great amount of patriotism but it will be tempered with the almost certain disillusionment that we will all feel when things go wrong. Then the only joy we will have is being able to say, “I told you so…”

Cheers,

Denis