Why my son cries when he loses, and why I love that about him!

“Why is Nathan crying?” asked the little girl, who’d tried her best all season, but not logged any points on the score board.

“Because he’s sad right now,” replied the coach (me).

“Is it because we lost?” she probed a little further.

“Yes, he is sad because our team lost.”

The game Nathan (age 6) was crying about was our semi-final loss that night to the best team in the league. He was crying because he only scored 3 points (all of our team’s points for this particular game!). He was crying because the other team kept fouling him. He was crying because our season had come to a sudden and painful end. He was crying because, well, he simply cares more than the other players. When you score 54 points throughout the season, wake up checking the NBA scores in the newspaper, google “LA Lakers” to find an ESPN video clip (yes he really did this…successfully!), and shoot hoops – inside and outside – at almost every possible break from school work, well then it hurts to lose.

Now, he knows that losing is unavoidable. He also knows there’s more to life than just sports, but he is so passionate about basketball that defeat just never feels right. The more you have invested in something, the more it will hurt when you don’t reach the goal you were hoping to achieve.

I said to Jill the other night, “Are you ready for this rollercoaster ride called sports?” The feel good highs of winning, then the devastation of a single loss. I know my parents went through it with us 3 boys, though I’m not sure it started at such a young age for us. Maybe it did. I can’t remember.

As the coach I get emotionally involved in the games, but more than anything, I want to see my kids do the best they can do with the gifts and abilities God’s given them. I know they’re going to win and lose, succeed and fail, but most of all I want to see them be everything they were created to be. In order to do that I am committed to walking closely with them – stride for stride – through this emotional journey of…life.

So, does it concern me that Nathan cares so much that he cries after a difficult loss? Especially when nobody else on his team is crying? Not in the least! In fact, it excites me. Yes, he’s only 6. But winning matters to him. Trying his best matters to him. Disappointment matters to him. Rising to the challenge matters to him. Do I want everyone to see him crying? No! But do I want everyone to see he cares? Ah, now there’s the rub.

I want my kids to care. About winning in sports, about honoring God with their finances, about helping the needy, about knowing God and His Word, about the local church, about reaching the lost, about every dimension of life on this earth. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He cared. About people. About His Father’s will. About laying down His life. About doing whatever it took…

Lord, help me to care more. Care about the people around me. Care about the world. Care about what you think, care about who I’m called to be, care about what I’m called to do, care about everything… that you care about.

So cry, my son. Cry. I’m glad you care.

-Joel Guinness

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1 Comment

  1. david mckenna said,

    January 17, 2011 at 9:15 am

    agree with you partially. my nine-year-old was hysterical last night after our loss. we were up by 12, and then he just kept turning the ball over and we lost. he’s one of the best in the league, and i’m also his coach, but what if he pulls this stuff with other coaches? what kind of reputation is he getting? kids talk, you know. maybe it’s a good thing, who knows? the experts say he’ll grow out of it, but in the meantime it drives me a little batty. but i appreciate your thoughts. thanks, dmc


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