I was at a couple youth baseball games over Labor Day weekend, sweating in the 100 degree weather as I watched from the metal bleachers alongside a few parents. I’m not a parent and so it’s interesting to me to watch people who are parents at their children’s sports events. I often wonder if I will react the same way. I admire some traits I see, and wince at others (I’ll save those comments for another entry however 😉 ). But all this parent watching got me thinking.
I’ve always thought the issue of winning and losing was sort of an anti-Christian matter and wondered why we take it so seriously. Sitting at the games last weekend, I thought about how we root for our team, and they root for their team. We hope our kids do well, they hope theirs do well. And so on, and so on. But regardless of our rooting and the like, there will be one winner and one loser. Since I’m not a parent, it was easy for me to have an objective view of the game, which allowed me to see the game for exactly what it is: a game, with one winner and one loser, every time.
So I continued to wonder. Why is it that we get upset when we lose (or worse, we get upset at our kids when they lose), even though one side will always lose? And then the sardonic side of me thought: seeking to win means that we wish the other team to lose, which is undeniably selfish.
I know, I know. I can already hear you saying there’s nothing wrong with friendly competition, but all I’m really trying to say is this:
Two ways to handle a win or a loss
1. To be competitive and unselfish about a game means to play your hardest, but to have a positive attitude regardless of the outcome. Do you treat others with respect after winning? Do you congratulate the other team when they win? Can you smile when the game is over?
2. To be competitive and selfish about a game means to be arrogant when you win or angry when you lose. Does your ego fill up after winning? Does your temper flare after losing? Do you mistreat others when the game is over?
We live in a culture that practices the latter. As Christians we are called to the former. It may sound impossible or even ridiculous to play sports the way I am suggesting, but could it be that our culture has taught us to think so? What are some ways you can practice unselfish attitudes this week? And not just with sports, but all areas of life. Cheer on, friends.