15 March 2011

Stupid Game

I am not particularly competitive. I want to be successful at my job(s), but I don't really care if you're more adept at them. I didn't play sports when I was young, with the exception of a few years of field hockey, and a stint as a cheerleader in high school. I was a decent flutist, but a fairly lackluster drum majorette. I was involved in a lot of different activities, but never really excelled at one particular thing. I was like Two, but with better grades.

The Captain is very competitive. He plays Men's League hockey, and every season they have play-offs. His team always makes it to the championship game, which they lose. It is like the Stanley Cup finals each and every time. Emotions run ridiculously high. This happens THREE TIMES A YEAR. Each time they lose, I try to be supportive, because I would like them to win. But, seriously; it's Men's League.  If he loses, he still gets to go play the next week. 

He is similarly programmed when playing golf. You would think he was a tour pro, judging by his reaction to a bad score. Likewise, he can't believe it when he doesn't bowl a strike every single time he chucks the ball down the lane. He would also prefer to beat the children at video games, but I think he's accepted that he just doesn't have an advantage there.

We are different. But the Captain and Three are alike. Three is very competitive, but without the Captain's work ethic. Three is naturally athletic, but doesn't really like to practice, or take direction from a coach, if he can help it. It's a destructive blend of insecurity and ability. He doesn't want anyone to point out his faults, and he often has just enough talent to pull it off. But sometimes that's not enough in a clutch situation.

Tonight, Three's basketball team played the first game in a best-of-three championship series. Personally, I think the fact that they made it this far is pretty amazing. They've improved as the season progressed, individually, and as a team. The Captain is the assistant coach. He wasn't going to do it this year, but he and Three agreed they could treat each other as coach and player, and leave out the messy familial stuff. They've been fairly successful, except for the times that Three has lost his mind.

There are rules in rec league. A player cannot question the referees; he cannot curse; he must exhibit good sportsmanship. In the past two games, Three has broken all of these rules.

Part of the problem is raging hormones. Thirteen and fourteen year-old boys are roiling cauldrons of emotion, most of it potentially violent. The other factor is that thirteen and fourteen year-old boys are insecure dickheads, who will cut down their friends to escape their own feelings of inadequacy. So, all day long the opposing teams talked trash at one another in school. They also texted trash. And then some of Three's "friends" showed up to cheer against him, because they told him he's a braggart and a sore loser. So, Three lost his shit. He flipped off  his friend on the other team. He complained about calls. His coaches told him, forcefully, to get his act together, and he sulked. Mostly, he tried not to cry. And he wasn't very successful at that, either.

His team lost by two points. His head coach lost his mind with the referees, over uncalled fouls. Kids on both teams were visibly upset. Now we get to go back tomorrow and play again. Yay.

Three came in while I was writing this to tell me he had texted his friend on the other team to apologize. I am encouraged. I reminded him that he is on a team, but each person is responsible for his own behavior. We had a good discussion about not letting other people bother him, because then he's not playing his best. We talked about how winning is not as important as friendship.

These are important life skills he needs to learn, even if it is during a stupid game.


  1. Anonymous15.3.11

    Wow, and I thought sitting through nine years (plus two for the other kid) of football seasons was difficult.
    Hug that boy Three for me, he's gettin' it, I can see that from here.
    Good job Mom!

  2. The Captain is unable to post, due to work access restrictions. However, he says:

    1) We've actually won 2 championships.
    2) We've won numerous silver and bronze tournament medals in Montreal - though still chasing that elusive gold.
    3) That everything else you describe about me in the post is unfortunately 100% accurate.

    The Lone Woman apologizes for any factual inaccuracies.

  3. Doesn't it make you want to pull your hair out?

    I, being a Leo, a diva, and a generally sore loser, MUST be the best at everything. Fortunately my husband is laid back so our sweet pea is unlikely to be truly psychotic.

    I also can't take criticism. I've learned to shut up and listen to it but i still fight back tears if anyone corrects me about anything, no matter how gently or needfully.

  4. Oh, that testosterone! I do believe tho that in the Captain's family competitiveness comes along in the genes pool.

    Three is trying Mom. Great exchange. If only you can keep your sanity I know they will grow up to be fine men. You and the Captain set fine examples.

    I do love the honesty you and the Captain exhibit in your relationship.

  5. Let me get this straight. You have a teenaged boy who apologized to his friend without being told? That's crazy-good mothering, right there.

    Magnum and I aren't competitive at all. Unfortunately for our children's scholarship prospects, they aren't either. I might have to whip a little pride on them. (Not that it would work. My eldest son would be likely to ask for a list of the benefits, decide it's not worth the effort, and keep playing his video games.)

  6. I can flip into being competitive when the mood arises. Fortunately, the mood doesn't hit that often.

    I love that the league is working to demand good sportsmanship. It is one of the key benefits that people cite when discussing the reasons that kids should participate in organized athletics. However, fewer adults seems to promote that standard. Perhpas it is because some adults haven't really mastered the elements of good sportsmanship themselves. As Three is learning, it is a very tough standard to maintain. But it is also an invaluable life lesson. I'm glad he is making the effort.

  7. For those that struggle with trying to understand the competitive soul, I strongly recommend reading "Fever Pitch" by Nick Hornby. (Read the book, avoid the movie. Ugh.)

    I am NOT that competitive because that would involve confrontation. Eek.

  8. @Delia: My eldest son and yours could be partners in a mediocre business together-- only because it sounds like neither one would succumb to ambition! [if I'm lumping your son in with mine erroneously, please accept my apologies and envy]


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