The Thrill of Victory….The Agony of Defeat!

Something came to me last night while watching a minor hockey playoff game (yes I do actually enjoy hockey too, I just don’t always announce it).  This was a game five of a best of five tied at two games apiece.  The game ended tied at 1 after three periods, which meant sudden death overtime.  It was a fantastic game, with many exciting moments throughout, and I have to say a real pleasure to see.

I was amazed when I saw the first overtime period end and the game was still tied.  I was more amazed when I saw the second overtime period end and still no goal.  These 11 and 12 year olds were noticeably dog tired and yet still fighting like mad to try to get the decisive goal and allow their team to continue on to the next round of the playoffs.  They were now about to enter their sixth period of hockey with their season hanging in the balance.

It was after the second overtime frame that I remember thinking to myself; one of these two teams is going to lose this game, and it is a real shame.  Both teams were playing a great game, both goalies were making saves they shouldn’t have made and the extremely vocal fans from both teams were visibly tense.

Ultimately, a few minutes into the third overtime period, period six of the game, and roughly two and a half hours in, the home team scored and the jubilance started at one end while the dejection was noticeable at the other.

I was rooting for the visitors this night, but unfortunately it was not their night to win.  But I do know that they played a great game.  I also know that their coach told them as much, and I hope that their parents did the same.  It is in those times that the focus of parents and coaches should be to not allow their kids to get too low, and the winners not to get too high.  Tomorrow is another day, another battle, and there will be games where the kids will be on the other end of the result in both cases. 

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest life lessons our kids can get from playing team sports; how to win with dignity, and how to lose with dignity.  Understanding that it is just a game and not allowing it to control your being is what will make our young players better people when they are older.

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