let me tell you something about me that you may not know, i love competition. i'm speaking specifically here about athletic competition. i love being the guy with the ball with time running out and down by two or up to bat with 2-out in the bottom of the 9th and our team needing a run. i love to play sports and have always loved to watch a close game.
all my life i've heard how good sports are for my personal development. "healthy competition is such a good thing" they say. "you learn so much about life through sports."
then i had a child.
a child who at almost 2 years old is showing signs of athleticism. now i'm starting to evaluate these statements. are these statements and others like it true? is there any such thing as "healthy competition"? i'm beginning to wonder what that word even means any more. a member of my church softball team recently sent this email out to the whole team:
Most teams I have played with from 1978 on would bury an opposing player for making an error, striking out or any other gaf. Any potential for taking a thin skinned player out of his game and into his head was considered good hard nosed baseball and a tribute to a hard working group of bench jocks who looked for any edge they could get. If you didn't like it you could go play coed high arc.i don't know about you, but i was a bit taken aback when i first read the email. in order not to take this individual's email out of context, he was trying to get our team motivated for the playoffs because we have been accused of being soft. but the scene he is describing is sort of a disgrace to the sport if you ask me. i would have been ashamed to be a fan at those games and there's no way i would have let my son watch me be a part of humiliating the other team.
The team I play with in the hispanic league in Vineland hits anywhere from 3-7 home runs a game on average and after every home run the whole team lines the third base line and high fives the runners coming home after which - it gets worse - they all get in a huddle and with a rising drawn out scream 15 voices yell "BOMBA" (Bomb in English). We all fall over laughing, the fifty fans cheer, the ump shakes his head trying to hide his laughter and the other team makes faces and threats. It angers some of the other players but also strikes fear and teams know that if they don't bring their "A" game every play we will bury them on every little mistake they make every chance we get. The cheer goes on whether we are up five-one or down five-one, regardless, look out 'cause we're coming after you.
And at the end of every year we get calls from half the players in the league begging us to give them a shot at playing on our team. Every year the other teams recruit heavily, all with the same intention - to beat us or the 1 or 2 other teams that are solid beasts who will bury you unmercilessly on any given chance. Killer instinct - talk about an edge.
so what is healthy competition? i think sports should be about physical health, sportsmanship and fun. i think it should instill hard work and learning to work as a team towards a common goal. winning is secondary, but it has become primary. i also think we need to have a healthy view towards professional sports where winning actually means something and these leagues that mean nothing.
i'd really love some feedback about this issue. what message should we be sending our kids? should we allow sports to dominate out family life? at the same time, sports are fun and important for physical and to a large degree mental development. but they can also be a detriment to mental development. how do we find a healthy balance? more importantly, how do we redeem a good thing in our culture that is clearly gone awry?