** UPDATE** No, I’m Not a Bad Dad For Teaching My Kids to Lose Gracefully
Last week I wrote an article here on the website questioning my own parenting technique when it comes to sports. I was never very good at sports as a kid, and I was rarely on winning teams. My love was baseball, but baseball didn't love me back. As a result, I know a thing or two about losing. I wasn't good at losing, and I wanted to make sure that trait wasn't continued in my children.
In the article I described the conversation I had with my 5-year old son, Logan, after his first game in tee ball. His team won 21-3, followed by another run-rule game immediately after the first. He reached base all four times and scored each time he got on base. I wanted to make sure he knew that not every game was going to result in a win, and there were going to be games where he can't get on base to save his life. My fear was that I was going to teach him to expect failure, as opposed to accepting that failure is a part of life.
So far, I'm wrong twice in my assumptions regarding my previous article. Saturday night I arrived after a day at work to watch the final of three consecutive games played by my son's team. They had won each of their first five games throughout the week to advance to the preseason tournament championship game. He had gotten on base all but once throughout those games, and he was down in the bottom three batters in the lineup as one of the younger players. Two weeks before Saturday night's game Logan didn't know where first base was located. He did what most kids do the first time they play tee ball... he ran to third base the first time he hit.
The game went back and forth over the first three innings. Both teams held the lead at one time or another, and the opposing team held a four-run lead going into what would be the last inning, more than likely, because of the one-hour time limit. The game was tied at 16 when Logan came up to bat with 2-outs and the bases loaded. There was confusion prior to him batting, with the coaches scrambling to make sure the batting order was correct. The team was one practice swing away from the wrong player batting in Logan's spot before someone noticed and made sure the right batter hit. Logan stood in the box the same as he always does, looking like he's about to fall over because the bat's as big as he is. One practice swing to get himself lined up and he was ready.
Dink! It wasn't exactly what you'd call a "screamer", but it was slow enough that it took the 3rd baseman a few steps to get to it, and by then Logan was flying down the line. I have to admit, the ball beat him there, the 1st baseman tagged him after being pulled off the bag by the throw and I thought he was out. I thought we were going to extra innings for the championship. I was wrong again. The ball fell out of the 1st baseman's glove as he tagged Logan, and Logan quickly did what 75 adults were screaming at him to do... touch 1st base. He jumped on the bag and the winning run crossed home plate.
The kids on the field seemed to be the only people that didn't know what had just happened. It took about five minutes for Logan to realize that he had the winning hit (there are no errors in tee ball) in the championship game. He had accomplished what his old man never did...he had a game-winning hit. That he did it in the preseason championship game made it that much sweeter... for me. I love my kids. I hate losing. Therefore, I hate for my kids to lose. Logan must think I'm insane when he thinks to the conversation about losing games and having bad games. So far, he hasn't lost. So far, he hasn't had a bad game. So far, I'm wrong. Life... it can be cruel. He'll get his.