Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Competition & Sportsmanship: Mutually Exclusive or Not?

Can she cook AND blog at the same time? Gee whiz. Ever have one of those days? All I wanted was to share a little anecdote and every time I attempted, something interrupted. I could interpret that in a few ways, I guess. Either I have had a bona fide busy day OR God has been trying to protect me from embarrassing myself, writing something I ought not. I will let you decide. Either way, here I am, simultaneously cooking beef stroganoff and blogging.

This true story gave me a good laugh:

My family is into biking, as in cycling, as in bicycling, as in Tour de France road riding and Leadville-style mountain biking. The fact that we own a bike shop might make this obvious. Truly, the bike shop is an effect of the cause.

Anyhow, my boys (meaning my Dear Man-Husband and Man-Son #1) are both pretty good riders. It's genetic as the uncles are also local legends in their respective areas. Until he started riding, Man-Son #1 wasn't competitive in anything. He tried wrestling and got dumped on his head. He played football but paced the sidelines. He just didn't have the eye of the tiger. Contact sports, where he had to be the aggressor and actually attempt to hurt someone, just didn't fit into his psyche.

Apparently, bike riding is different.

He and the Man-Husband set out to ride last night with a group of middle-aged ex-pro racers. Four or five of them have been meeting a few nights a week and having a ball riding hard, but having fun. They have had their day. They aren't out to prove their meddle. Son-Man #1 is competitively ranked in his age group and holds his own with these ex-racers.

Not everyone rides with the fun factor in mind. It must be a testosterone thing, but, my goodness, the posturing. Unbelievable. Rumor had it a new guy would show up to ride with the group, one who made the unfortunate comment that he would probably be lowering his training standards a bit to ride with the "old guys." Poor guy.

So the Man-Husband made a comment to me earlier in the day that he would be packing his can of Woop-A*&. Seems this newcomer needed to be fun, of course.

The ride went as expected with Straggler Man changing his triathletic tune a tad as he limped to the finish. I am told Man-Son #1 felt strong on the climbs and was awarded the evening's Polka Dot jersey (figuratively...the best climber award).

So here is the funny part. When they came home, I asked Son-Man #1, "How was your can of Woop-A*&?" to which my quiet and subdued child replied, "Open."

I about fell on the floor laughing. It's hard not to appreciate a quick wit.

But maybe I shouldn't be so proud? There may be those who argue that winning is mean. I certainly don't like coming in last place. But whose fault is it if I am not conditioned to hang with the big boys?

In this, I checked the attitude with which the victory was won. These guys are all about fun and they really bristle at prima donnas who come in with something to prove.

In teaching our kids about competition, shouldn't we be about sportsmanship and character? But is that concept mutually exclusive to winning?  Should we back off to spare someone's feelings or do what we do well and savor some of the victory? What do you think?

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