The value of competition

Fairness and equal participation is the mentality for a vast number of youth sports. In fact, it is represented in the first two philosophies for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). Their six philosophies are:
  1. Everyone Plays
  2. Balanced Teams
  3. Open Registration
  4. Positive Coaching
  5. Good Sportsmanship
  6. Player Development

I began to ponder this mentality when my daughter asked me at a race award ceremony if I was going to get a medal. My reply was simple, sometimes mommy does well and gets a medal and sometimes the competition is a bit harder and I don't. But mommy always does her best and tries and I am happy with how I ran today.

As I reflect back, I feel this is the winning message I want my daughter to grow up with. You don't always win and that is okay. But am I questioning the philosophies of the AYSO? Not at all. I do agree at a young age all players should get a chance to play because skills will not develop in isolation on the sidelines. I also feel that everyone can learn from other players or runners. There are a lot of lessons out there to learn and I strongly support sports as the foundation to being a better person.

My daughter will grow up in a household that embraces healthy competition. She will learn at times I am competing against others and at times I am just competing against myself and aiming for a better PR. Last night my race had me in an age category with runners half my age. Woah! This was a time to focus my competition on me, being a better runner, working on my PR, and improving my racing capabilities. I did not get a medal but I got something even better. I got the sense of pride knowing I did well, I achieved my goals, and I set a wonderful example for my daughter who is eager to get her own race number one day and run. What can beat that?