This year, the Montana State High School Association changed the rules. The top two teams from the season get an automatic berth at the Montana State Championship meet - so we were able to avoid the trauma of a play-off game.
Everyone is excited, and despite a few injuries, our entire Varsity squad is hoping to be in good enough shape to play. My own son (a senior this year) broke a bone in his hand during practice last week. He has to
wait for the swelling to go down, but it will be casted just hours before they board the bus that will take them to Billings where the tournament will be played, later this week. Once bubble-wrap is applied over the cast, (to protect the other players) my son, like all his teammates, will be ready to play.
Both the boys and girls Varsity soccer teams of my son's high school have done very well this year, and everyone's level of excitment is running high. Of course we are all hoping they will bring home both of the State Championship first-place trophies this year. Re-reading my post from last year, "It's Just a Game, Right?" was good for me today, though. (If you are a parent of a competitive athlete, you might find it interesting, as well.) My own article reminded me of the healthy perspective I gained from the disappointment we suffered last year.
Soccer is "the beautiful game" - but like all sports, it is just a game. There is always a winner and a loser, but every player and every team is more than the sum of those results. A big win is something an athlete often holds close to the heart for the rest of his/her life; a loss can be a character-building life lesson he/she will never forget. However, while winning seems important, to consider it everything is really missing the point.
The sportsmanship of our boys last year, even in the event of an unexpected loss, was praiseworthy. I have no doubt that this year our high school male and female soccer players will continue to act with the same grace and good character as they always have, no matter who holds the trophies at the end of the season.
I am proud of them all. Determination, effort, and teamwork is always admirable. They've worked hard to get better, and have had fun together.
Isn't that, really, what playing sports is all about?
Can you think of a time when you learned as much from a loss than you would have from a win?
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