Winning at All Costs (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Lately I’ve been wondering if I was doing a good job raising my two sons. This made me watch other parents, and I’ve come to realize that society is obsessed with winning at all costs. I see this in Junior Rodeo, softball, football, and any other sport where kids compete. This obsession is easy to see whether it’s a parent screaming at the referee or buying a little kid a $30,000 horse that he doesn’t need.

It’s win at any cost instead of what it should be, which is to compete to the best of your ability and have fun doing it. My seven year old son plays flag football, so how much importance do I put on winning versus competing? My philosophy is to give it your best and have fun.

I’m not trying to raise a professional flag football player at seven, but, at the same time, it’s important to train to win, just not at all costs. When you compete to win at all costs, how will you handle defeat? Do you play the blame game where there’s always an excuse why you didn’t win? Or do you come down very hard on your kid for not winning, to the point where it makes them resentful of you, the sport, and the competition? These are negative things that come from “win at all costs” versus “do your best and enjoy yourself.”

I have a saying when it comes to raising kids: “Some is taught, but most is caught.” Therefore I live my life a lot louder through example than by my words. I have two sons who are very opposite when it comes to competing. One is very tender hearted who doesn’t want to hurt people and he’s a lover. My other son is highly competitive and will bloody your nose to beat you. I have to be very strategic in how I coach and train them.

The winning will take care of itself if a child is meant to compete for a living. That kid will develop the competitive edge when the time is right. As a kid, I was discouraged from roping because my family knew what a hard life this could be. That just motivated me all the more and meant that I was really meant to do it. When I wanted to rope I had to pen the calves, saddles the horses, and then beg for someone to turn them out for me. I still do all that because I still want it that bad. I don’t have a staff of people to do all the saddling and penning for me. My mouth still waters when I think of roping.

If someone had pushed me as a kid, I wouldn’t have wanted it. It wouldn’t have been me, it would have been someone else wanting it. I will never push my kids to rope. It will have to be something they desire and are willing to work for.

If there’s anything you would like me to write about, feel free to send me an email at strant@aol.com. Till next month, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.