There are some people in our society that think children should play games in which there are no clear winners. They think everyone should be a winner so that nobody’s feelings get hurt. There are some people in Boy Scouting that share these same thoughts. Everyone wins, no one loses.
Sorry, but I do not share that sentiment. Life is made up of winners and losers. Just ask the guy that got the job that the other guy really wanted. Or the high school basketball player who missed the winning shot. Or the Cub Scout who won the Pinewood Derby.
Having winners and losers is not the problem. How we act when we win or lose is more important. Or, as parents and adult leaders, how we treat the winners or losers is the most important thing.
Professional sports is all about winning or losing. I can understand this since these sports are actually an entertainment business. Millions of dollars are on the line. But the players, coaches, and team owners do not always set a good example of graceful winning or losing.
I do not like that same attitude used at the high school level. I am not a fan of parents, coaches, and schools applying a “win or nothing” attitude on their teenage players. Get rid of that “only winners count” attitude. It can be extremely stressful to the players. Yes, there should be competition, and yes, there needs to be a winner and a loser, but how we adults treat the two will demonstrate whether we provide a harmful environment or a growing environment for the students and players.
In the Scouting program we try to provide a growing and learning environment. We do not want to provide an atmosphere where winners mock the losers. Ideally, we want the winners to help the others to do a better job the next time. We want the winners to help the losers become winners also! We want everyone to “do their best”.
We play a lot of games in our troop, both by team and individually. Each team and Scout tries hard to win. He does his best to win. Yes, we do have winners and losers. The difference is that we do not let the winners gloat over the losers. Oh, there might be a minute of high fives, or a couple of comments, but the boys do it in the spirit of fun, not out of spite. In three minutes they don’t even care anymore because they have moved on to the next activity. To tell the truth, there have been many times when the Scouts are playing a game when they do not even try hard to keep a score. They are more concerned about having fun than they are about a scorecard.
I guess you could say the boys have learned the lesson. Winning or losing is not as important as having fun and being with your friends is. And as adults we need to remember that how we treat the winners and losers is the the most important thing of all. Our attitudes can make winners out of the losers too.