The Joy of Defeat


The Joy of Defeat isn’t something that you typically hear or read about. From a young age we are taught that losing isn’t something to be respected, admired or loved. Victory is what we seek and anything less is looked down upon. For some people that sounds ridiculous and any suggestion that it isn’t will probably be met with ridicule. If you are one of those people who believe that winning is everything prepare to roll your eyes because I don’t see life like that. And as a father I think that part of my job is to teach children how to lose gracefully.

Because the fact is that our children are not going to win every time. They will encounter many situations where they do not and I don’t want my kids to lose their minds because they don’t have coping skills. It is a topic that I have thought about often.  I work hard to teach them how to deal with what comes and not to quit. And I don’t mind doing it because the Resourceful Father is happy to pass along whatever wisdom he possesses.

But What About The Joy of Defeat?

I am glad that you asked because they say that confession is good for the soul and I must confess that this past weekend I experienced the Joy of Defeat. The boy we call “Little Jack” played in a regional soccer tournament. It was a privilege that was bestowed upon the top two teams in his division and we had high hopes to do well enough in the tournament to earn the right to advance again.

So here my friends is my confession….there was a part of  me that hoped that they didn’t win. There, I said it, I admitted out loud that part of me didn’t want them to enjoy success. Part of me wanted them to lose so that we would regain our ability to do other things on the weekend.

However my feelings suffered from a bad case of bifurcation because even though I sort of hoped that we would lose I also wanted to win. I wanted that big kid to feel the thrill of victory. I wanted him to continue to experience the  benefits that come from being part of a team.  The boys all like each other and it was a lot of fun to see them play, especially when they played well because they did so with such joy.

Ultimately our boys did not prevail in their quest for glory, at least not from the perspective of winning it all. In fact they lost every single game they played that day and I found myself gritting my teeth. It wasn’t because I was angry but because I was disappointed. I was disappointed because they could have won every game. I was disappointed because the reason that they lost was because they didn’t hustle or play with urgency.

I never told my son that I was disappointed or that I thought that the boys let themselves down because I didn’t see any upside to it. I want him to look back upon this time fondly and as I said in my earlier confession, it is kind of nice to regain some control over the weekend.

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  1. subWOW January 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I will confess: Was relieved when my son didn’t make regional in gymnastics because it was all the way in some other state… *sheepish grin*

    It’s tempting for me to make a sweeping comment on the US culture and its obsession with winning & being number 1. But I will refrain. It is indeed difficult watching your kids “lose” and oh yes indeed so much harder to teach them to accept defeat graciously and I hope I am able to do a good job on that.

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