Ok, I'm kind of glad that I didn't get anything written yesterday, because as I perused the email and news today, I came across this story. 108-3 GirlsBasketball Game Raises Questions. People are complaining about such a wide margin of victory being unsportsmanlike and ugly. That the winning team should have done something besides continue to score. That something must be done so that when these two teams meet again (which they will as part of their schedule) such a blowout doesn't happen again. I agree with that last one, something should be done. The team who lost should be taking that score to each and every practice between now and that rematch and busting their butts to make sure they are not obliterated like that again. There is at least one line coming out of the article that the school that lost is a school for underprivileged kids, and this blow to their self-esteem could be very damaging. The coach and the school and the team should be using this teachable moment to create an opportunity to teach how to raise self-esteem by getting up when you're knocked down, learn from the past, and better one's self in the future. Part of sportsmanship is learning how to lose, is it not, even learning how to lose big?
Somewhere along the road scattered with participant ribbons and unused score sheets, we have gotten the idea that kids shouldn't be subjected to being better or worse than each other. What is missed in that mindset are the great lessons that should be learned by coming in last or ending the game with a 0 on the scoreboard. Lessons like how to improve one's own game. Lessons like maybe your talents don't match the game or position you're in. Lessons like looking for what you did right and need to continue doing, and what you did wrong and need to fix. Lessons that extend far off any ball field and far past any grade. Instead, the lesson trying to be taught mostly by the writers and commentators on this particular story, since both schools say they have moved on from the subject already, is that it is better to just cut things off before the score gets that high, or for the team in front to pull back and not try so hard in the interest of not embarrassing their opponent. The only thing anyone learns from that lesson is to depend on others around them to account for their own slack, which anyone living in the real world knows is not how anything works.
Do we need to drop kids directly into situations and expect adult reactions from them? Of course not. But we also can't shelter them from losses, coming in last, or getting blown out the entirety of their childhood and magically know how to handle it as adults either.