For the first time in a couple of years, mainly due to COVID, I was back on the sidelines of the sporting fields at one of the biggest mini and youth tournaments in the Middle East. It was also the first since becoming a father. Now why that last point? As I moved around the grounds, medals dangling around kids necks caught my attention! I started to think. Must they have won the competition? But everyone seemed to have them on, well, the majority. Then I remembered. Finals, winners for Cup (top two), Plate (the best 5 and 6 placed), Bowl (the best of the rest, let’s say), medals for the entire team, and even for just being there! Many people have written about this topic, but we still reward mediocre performances. Then we often wonder why there is a lack of discipline, accountability, determination, hard work, making them feel special and knowing they will never learn that you have to earn it! No athlete wants to stand on the 2/3 stages of the podium, nor are they training to get on to them.
It has made me think even more now about being a father. I am thinking about what I say, how I praise my daughter for her achievements, and what I say when she fails. I know, and you learn a lot more from failure and acknowledging that you have failed than winning! So, if we continue to hand out medals and trophies to win the bottom 4 of the competition, what sort of message are we sending to today's kids?
In sport, there will always be a winner and loser. That’s why things like golden points and penalty shoot outs exist. The sooner we get the youth of today understanding that losing is a part of life and that trophies and medals are for actual winners, and that’s ok, the child will be better off! With that should come a mindset of wanting to work hard, figuring things out, drive to be better, and earn the right for that medal or trophy.
When you coach others that are not your own, you see things differently! I have coached hundreds of kids before having my own, and not all will like my views! I do know how I want my child to see things and that she understands there is a difference between participation and winning, and both a very different! I would love to hear your views on this. Please post in the comments, or shoot me a DM!