Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It Might Not Be Everything, But It Is Something

It's a hot, windy day here in the Texas Panhandle. High is expected be in the low 90's and already at noon, the wind is gusting upwards of fifty miles an hour.

I hate the wind -- always pushing -- shoving -- never relenting. It's brutal on my nerves. The hard and longer it blows, the worse my mood gets. So I apologize for my surly demeanor which is sure to shine through in today's rant.

The Pre-K soccer team I'm coaching won again last night to improve our unofficial record to 5-2. I say unofficial because there is no official score kept. Yes, that bugs me. In my way of thinking, there is much to learn by keeping score. Kids need to learn how to win, or lose gracefully, whatever the case may be.

Sure, at their age, the most important thing is for them to have fun and hopefully learn a few basics of the game while they're at it. I'm not advocating turning the games into high-pressure, win-at-all cost affairs. I rotate all my players equally and make no special effort to win by playing the better athletes more, but the kids ask me a thousand times during each game what the score is. My in-game stock answer is, "It's tied, so you better play hard."

Guess what most of them say, "No it's not. We have four or five or six goals and they only have ..."

The kids know. The kids care. The kids like to be rewarded for their effort and work just like everyone else.

So why dance around the truth just for the sake of not declaring a loser? No one wins all the time. Not in sports, not in life, and if you don't learn that fact until adulthood the truth is going to smack you right between the eyes. I'm proud to say every last kid on my team has improved during the season. They are now passing the ball, following the rules, and smiling all the while. There has been the occasional tear after a bump or bruise but their excitement and joy quickly overrides the injury. Again, it is good to learn that sometimes you have to pick yourself up off the ground and keep going .

I played a lot of sports in my day, and by no means did I win every time. But you know what? They still kept score. And as far as I can tell the experience didn't ruin my self-esteem.

Learning to deal with failure is a must of you are a writer seeking publication. Or an author with work already out there waiting for the cruel hand of critics. Sure, there are plenty of writers who refuse to submit queries, then there are some who blame the short-sighted agents and editors for not recognizing their brilliance. My guess is they grew up not keeping score.

So what do you think? To keep score or not? Weigh in and tell my why I'm wrong, or right. Call me an imbecile only fit to coach the Bad News Bears. But tell me something, because that's how I keep score on this blog.


And be sure and check out Christine Eldin's blog starting Saturday, as she kicks of author's week. there will be contests and book giveaways, and discussions with several talented authors so stop by and participate if you can.


Mom In Scrubs said...

Travis - you've just put into very eloquent words and issue that really chaps my hide!! I can't stand it when kids are in a "competition" and everyone gets a medal, a ribbon, yada yada. I agree. THE KIDS KNOW. What's more, THEY CARE. Winning gracefully and losing gracefully are lessons for life.

We can't all be astronauts when we grow up. And we can't all be winners. No matter who you are there's always someone smarter, faster, better-looking. If you can deal when you are young you have a huge advantage; ESPECIALLY with the newest generation.

The Anti-Wife said...

When they're really young and still learning the fundamentals, I can see the wisdom in not keeping score. But once they know how to play the game, introducing them to reality - that competition is a fact of life - seems better than trying to keep them in the dark.

WordVixen said...

Definitely to score. Don't let the pansies take over writing- they'll eliminate all real publishing houses and make everyone go through Publish America and Lulu so that no writers will get their feelings hurt by rejection.

Blah. Even best friends just messing around keep score! Classic example of the irritating minority dictating what the majority can do.

Of course, there is a difference between healthy competition and the psycho competitiveness some deal with.

Mary Ann said...

I think if they're keeping score in their minds, then they're ready to keep score.

spyscribbler said...

The not-keeping-score thing is completely ridiculous. They come in and tell me about the game, and I always ask the score, since I always forget they don't keep score.

Then they tell me they don't keep score but they won by two goals.

It's ridiculous! Even the kids laugh at it, because they know the PARENTS are keeping score!

Kids that age are OBSESSED with that sort of thing, with the constant comparisons. You'd have more luck telling adults not to keep score, maybe teenagers playing just for fun.

But the little ones? Nope.

Learning to deal with pressure, learning to have fun and not get stressed out about such things ... those are life lessons they need to learn.

Barrie said...

We do that here too--the no-score thing with the younger soccer players. I did notice that my kids pretty much always thought they won. So did the other team. :)

huddlekay said...

Keep Score!

I know that in anything in life, wether at home or at work and definately in my writing, I want to be rewarded-that's always nice-But I want to be rewarded for work that is actually good. If your constantly being told "yes, that's good (or hey you won the game) then there is no drive to do better.

And I believe that there is always room for improvement, no matter who, or how old you are.

Terrie Farley Moran said...


My grandson (age 5) just started soccer. (You knew this would bring out the grandma in me!) they don't keep score but at the end of the first game, my grandson said to his parents. "We lost. They got four goals and we got two."

The next week he called me on the phone to say that his team got three goals and he helped get one of them and, oh yeah, the other team didn't get any.

So I guess the only one's not keeping score are the coaches and parents.


B.E. Sanderson said...

Oh, Travis, don't even get me started this morning. This whole shift toward not keeping score - in sports and in grades now - burns me to no end. My nephew's school did away with the honor roll because they didn't want the poorer students to feel bad they weren't on it. Some schools are doing away with valedictorians. I agree some parents are psycho about these things (on both the winning and the losing sides) but competition is necessary. If you never have anything to shoot for - like winning a game, or getting on the honor roll - what's the point of trying?

'Nuff said.

ChrisEldin said...

Thanks for the shout out!!

Did you get my email? I got one from you, but am worried mine are being directed to a spam filter.

Bubblewench said...

I'm all for score keeping.. no matter how old. Real life.. not coddling.

Beth said...

Definitely keep score. In life, you don't get a medal if you lose and I think its important that kids learn that early on. The grown up world is enough of a shock without having to add this to it as well.

Just like huddlekay said, if you don't know where you did badly you don't have a hope in hell of learning what to improve on.

Charles Gramlich said...

The Kids know is right on. I believe score should be kept for anything like a game between teams. If a team loses they should be taught to lose gracefully and that the loss does not reflect on them as a bad person. Similarly, the winners need to win gracefully and not crow and brag about it. But the score needs to be there. T

Charles Gramlich said...

I had to come back to mention a weird coincidence. I started a book last night by James Reasoner called "Texas Wind," and then I saw your post today. Later when I got toward the end of that book I found the following bit of dialogue:

"Maybe it's the wind."
"The Wind?"
"Yes, this damned Texas Wind. It blows all the time.... It blows all the good things away."

A truly excellent book btw. By a writer down your way.

Patti said...

idiots. keep score. even if the adults aren't the kiddos know who won.

deborah elliott-upton said...

Keeping score is important. We learn a lot about ourselves and others by how we/they win, lose, place or draw.

Katrina said...

Travis you mentioned the wind. I hate it too but finally, after all these years, found something it is good for.

Since when have you been on an airline flight that was ahead of schedule?

Yesterday I came into Amarillo on a flight from Las Vegas and a tail wind blew us into Amarillo 45 minutes early! What a surprise!
BUT still had to wait--my teenager was picking me up and of course is never on time!

My book review is posted for tomorrow.

ChrisEldin said...

I just read your post about soccer. I have two boys, so I can entirely relate to this. I agree with you, but it's a balance. And for the most part, I think it's the parents who get waaaay more competitive than the coaches or the kids.
I think sports teaches you many things, and you said it much more eloquently than I could.
Good on you for coaching!!!!

Stephen Parrish said...

If the kids are old enough to ask what the score is, they're old enough to know.

Bernita said...

I agree.
Keep score.

The Covert Lover said...

In life you win or lose. That's just the way it works. You work hard to get the promotion, and get awarded accordingly. Everyone in the company doesn't get promoted in the spirit of fairnes. Why does anyone think children do not need to learn this? Are we not raising our children to lead meaninful lives? Should we intead teach them that everything has to be fair, thus intentionally misleading them so that later in life they are confused?
It's like those people who think it's adorable with then 2 year old cusses, and then a couple years later busts their ass when they cuss. You know that poor child is confused and thinking WTF happened?
Wow, I'm rambling this morning - so anyway, that's my opinion! :)

Josephine Damian said...

It's a hot, windy day here in the Texas Panhandle. High is expected be in the low 90's and already at noon, the wind is gusting upwards of fifty miles an hour.

Same here, bro. Brush fire weather. Never thought I'd hate the wind till I moved to FL - if the hurricane don't get you, the brush fire will.

Debbielou said...

Life is a competition in which you can only do your best - some you win some you lose ( but hopefully have fun all the same) - sometimes your score isn't good enough but hey it makes you try even harder the next time - scores are necessary numbers & very important to kids.

A-Ron said...

I think you should keep score... or they're going to have a rude awakening when they're older and discover that's the way the world works.

Adriann said...

When I first read your rant :) I thought, "Men are so competitive." But when gave your explaination as to why keeping score is important, I began to see your POV. You have a very good argument. I say-- keep score!

Enjoy your weekend!!

Anonymous said...

keeping score should be allowed -- we do our kids no favors when we shelter them from the experience of not winning, of being underdogs, of coming from behind, of winning gracefully. you're right. they know and it's a ridiculous psychological game we play. i think it confuses them.

SUV MAMA said...

I try to practice U
p (unconditional parenting)- so keeping score is sort of a tough one. Here's the deal: As long as your kid knows your love for them is not dependent on wether or not they win or lose, then yeah, keep score. I agree with the medal thing. Although when Kate finished pre-k soccer this fall, I will admit it was fun to have a little trophy for her to take home. We explained carefully that it was for "participation". Even if they did win every game. (Shh! Mama couldn't help but keep track).

Jenster said...

I'm not qualified to answer. But I'm going to anyway.

I don't have a problem with kids that young not keeping score. They're learning the fundamentals of the game. That's all.

When they're in 2nd or 3rd grade and still not keeping score THEN I have a problem with it.

I never "let" my kids win at board games because I wanted them to be able to lose gracefully. That and I'm too competitive. But that's another story.

You are right, though. They always know exactly what the score is, don't they?

Josephine Damian said...

TE: I'm doing a My Town post on Tarrytown, NY instead of New Rochelle. It's the home of Washington Irving.

BTW: Blogger would not let me display a post dated blog post! When I set the date tomorrow, it said it would not make it available for viewing until tomoorow. I switched the date back to today's. Let me know if you have the same issue.

:P fuzzbox said...

You and I are in the wrong part of the world to hate wind. At least down below the Cap, they are putting up those wind turbines everywhere. It is hard to figure why they didn't think of this earlier. If there is one thing that this place has it's wind.

Penelope said...

Keep score-- the way it's being done is like having a purple elephant in the room and nobody talking about it.

I've always wondered-- do they really think those kids don't know the score? They totally know the score. EVERYBODY knows the score.