Winning and Losing – What is the big difference, and how do we make it better

From time to time I write articles for the local Bega Bombers AFL side.  It’s such a great club, with a strong, moral compass, which is quite refreshing in this day and age.  The Bombers were my first club that looked for my services as an Strength and Conditioning Coach, and as such, I spent 3 years with their seniors and juniors.  This is the latest article.  I hope you enjoy it.

“Winning and Losing – What is the big difference, and how do we make it better”

I know it’s a very strange title, but let’s work with it a little bit.

Have you ever won a game, and thought “How did we win this?”

Let’s reverse that then: “How did we lose that game.  We did everything right.”

Winning at the end of the day on a footy field is all about scoring more points than the other team.  That’s it.  Same rule applies to losing.  Yup. You scored less points than the opposition.  It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t need to be.  The thing that we need to be very careful is putting winning above everything else.   As a parent, do you tell your children they had a good game, regardless if they won or lost?  Do you tell them what they did wrong, instead of what they did right?  Do you cheer for the other side when they kick a goal, or do you berate the umpire when they get the decision wrong?

This quote from Harry Sheehy sums it up.

If you win, and all you do is walk around with your chest puffed out, telling everyone that you won, and you annihilated the opposition, belittle your opposition, refuse to shake their hands because they are “losers”, do you think you are really a winner?  What about when you lose?  Does mum and dad have to put up with your poor behaviour because you lost?  Do you sit in the corner and sulk?  Do you tell people to go away, and refuse to listen to any type of conversation because you lost?

The Stanford Children’s Health has a great article on what it means to be a good sport.  After all, isn’t that what we want to be?  Don’t we want to have fun, regardless of the score?  Don’t we want to enjoy the fact we are out there playing with our friends, and against our friends.  As a parent, don’t we want our children to understand that winning isn’t everything, and neither is losing?  It’s about the enjoyment.  It’s about the learning.  It’s about the experience.  It’s about the fresh air and sunshine.  It’s about sharing a moment with your child that you may never get again.

At the School, this is what we expect from all our students.  We respect the other players.  We respect those who give up their time to coach us. We sit and listen to what others have to say. We respect the other teams, and we celebrate and congratulate at the end of the game, or the sport we play.  This is why the School got involved with the wonderful Bega Bombers, because this is you do well.  You love the game.  You respect each other, and the opposition, and the umpires and the game.

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teaching-children-good-sportsmanship-1-4524

https://www.afl.com.au/afl-hq/laws-of-the-game

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sportsmanship.html