Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals.

Professional sports and even highly competitive intercollegiate sports seem irreversibly addicted to the idea that sports is basically a business and that the only thing that makes sports profitable is winning. And if that means we have to tolerate egocentric self-indulgent showboating or whining, violence or even cheating, so be it. Clearly these attitudes have invaded youth sports as well. Everywhere we see that a lot of adults — both coaches and parents — need to grow up and realize the game is not about either their egos or ambitions.

The appropriate mission of youth sports is to provide kids a safe environment in which they have fun, build character, learn to practice sportsmanship, and develop skills and traits that help them become responsible citizens and live happy, healthy lives. Striving to win is an important aspect of competition and teaching kids how to compete effectively and honorably is important, but youth sports is not primarily about winning; it’s about trying to win and learning through effort and improvement.

Of course winning is fun and kids like to win, but it’s the adults who distort the experience because of their need to win. No matter how much we try, only a few youngsters will move beyond high school sports, and an even tinier percentage will make a living from athletics. But when youth sports are done right, every participant can build positive life skills and gain lifelong memories from the pursuit of victory with honor.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 4

  1. keep spreading that message. Two coaches in Iowa girl’s basketball resigned because of bulllying and harassment from parent and other adults. As you said we must remember the goal of sports should be to build better citizens- future wives, husbands and workers. Other wise sports can be harmful. Trying to win is a world away from the win at all costs philosophy.
    Maybe it is time for another PVWH Summit. Jim

  2. Keep on posting. The things you share are so important and only those children with a solid, positive value system will be able to turn around what is happening in our society!

  3. Michael – What a wonderful distinction between “liking” to win and “needing” to win. Having worked with my son for years in age-group soccer being an assistant coach, I had to constantly fight the demons of “having” to win and trying to concentrate on the fun of the sport, the commaradery, good sportsmanship, and pizza afterwards!
    Keep up the good work.

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