I’m a huge proponent of kids play sports. Growing up, I was constantly involved in one sport or another, baseball, basketball, or tennis, through high school. More important than wins or losses or how good I got at a specific sport, was the life lessons that I learned in the process.
The greatest lesson I ever learned was the importance of sportsmanship. With time, I could no longer go 5 sets on the tennis court and gone were the days I could pull up for a transition 3 but what I learned about how to treat others has never left and it is a skill that has prepared me well for a successful business career.
I was thinking about this a lot yesterday, seeing two contrasting styles of leadership. First, at my son’s soccer game, one of his teammates went down with an injury, I saw the opposing coach gather his team to explain the importance of the moment. I witnessed the opposing team following the coach’s lead in taking a knee and bowing their heads. At that moment, I knew these kids were fortunate for being taught these important life lessons now. They would be better, more successful, people for it.
In contrast, during my daughter’s soccer game, I watched player after player being injured, by the same opposing player, finishing with my daughter in the emergency room being treated for a concussion. Never once did the opposing team express concern. Never once did I see a hand extended to help up a fallen competitor. Never once did I see the opposing coach use this as a teaching opportunity. After the game, when most players leave the game on the field and become friends again, I witnessed the offending player refuse to shake her opponents hands. At that moment, I knew these kids were unfortunate for being taught how to be great soccer players but not being taught how to be great women.
Sportsmanship matters and the most important lessons you learn on the field are life lessons. What lessons do you want your kids to learn?