Winning At All Costs

winningMy son was somewhat perplexed following his volleyball games against another school yesterday and questioned his coach afterwards about some of his decisions.  My son was disappointed that, although his team played well, the other team won more games because they bent the rules and were encouraged to take advantage of our weakest player.  He thought the weaker player should have been subbed out for a stronger player.  Our coach explained that he was all about playing by the rules, teaching good sportsmanship, and being fair about rotating the players so that they get the experience to improve and build their confidence, especially at the modified level when the kids are learning the sport.  He also explained that at the JV level, what the other team’s players were doing incorrectly will get called every time, and those kids will look foolish and will have to relearn how to play correctly, whereas our team will not.

I told my son as I emphasized all the positives that I was more proud of him for playing by the rules, being a good sport, and playing with the right technique than I would have been if they won because they had bent the rules or played underhandedly.  I know it isn’t sitting well with him that the other team got away with playing the way they did, but it bothers me that he seems to be focused on the fact that his team didn’t win.

The whole thing makes me think of that whole mentality which some people have that it shouldn’t matter how you get the outcome you desire as long as you get it, even if you have to be deceitful, manipulative, bend or ignore the rules, or hurt people in the process.  Sports are one thing, but everyday life is another.  Unfortunately, my son has seen and been pulled into many situations that have reinforced this idea to him, and it is reflected in his behavior on a regular basis.  It’s a constant battle trying to teach him to govern himself with integrity when he is learning the opposite from other people.

This presidential election headed down that path a LONG time ago where the focus shifted away from issues and policies and became more about digging up dirt and lies, name-calling, bullying, leaking video tapes, in sighting violence, making accusations of a rigged election, and so on.  It’s become about pulling out all the stops to make the other candidate look as unfit to be president as possible, rather than focus on detailed information about what they will do if elected.  The tone is so negative because both campaigns will do whatever it takes to win, regardless of how low they stoop in the process.  I certainly hope this election is not setting precedent for all future elections. I want to feel like I am voting FOR someone and not against someone or that I am picking the lesser of two evils.  I also worry about the example that is being set for young impressionable minds as to how you go about getting elected or anything else that you wish to achieve.

It should feel better achieving something that you actually earned, but for some people, I guess that’s not a motivating factor or perhaps something that they have experienced.  They clearly don’t understand that winning at all costs often means losing respect from others in the process.  My kids get annoyed with me if I ask them to reflect on how good they feel when they work hard at something and are then successful, but I think that’s an important thing to do in order for kids to see and learn that connection so that they are more apt to proceed through life making decisions based on values, good work ethics, and integrity.  I just wish more people shared my view.

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