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Saturday, October 20, 2007

When is enough, enough?

B had a soccer game today. One of the interesting things about her team is that half of the players are playing at an elite level, the other half play at a beginner's level. Since they are divided on to two fields, the better players play on one side, the others play on the other. I keep thinking about this arrangement, because it's such an odd situation. The parents on the other teams think it's horrible that six and seven year olds are already being divided up on "A" teams and "B" teams. And I can sort of understand that. Our so-called "A" team is undefeated, to the point that they slaughter anything that comes their way. The "B" team consistently gets slaughtered.

For the record, my daughter mostly plays on the "B" team. I don't mind so much, because I know she's learning, and when she plays on the "A" team, she's intimidated by the better players and lets them do it all while she hangs back. On the "B" team, she's confident and plays like a champ.

Today, though, she played on both sides, and I got to hear comments from parents on both sides. And now I'm so torn I don't know what to think. The parents of the girls on the "A" team resent the kids on the "B" team. One parent was so insensitive as to comment to another that she didn't know why this one little girl was even on the team, she's so bad. (It's a rec league, open to any child.) I felt bad for the little girl (who didn't hear the comment). Maybe it's because I was that little girl.

I've always been the nerdy kid who preferred to sit in a corner, reading a book. I'm the "smart one." School came easy for me. Athletics did not. After my disastrous cheerleading tryout at the end of eighth grade, I completely gave up even trying to play any sort of sport. It hurt too much to be laughed at. Since then, I haven't even attempted to participate, even in just a "fun" game. I like yoga, because it's an individual thing, and every instructor I've had always emphasized personal growth. That, I can handle. And I have to admit, that when I work on it regularly, I'm pretty good at yoga. I also like swing dancing, and am thinking of expanding to other ballroom dances. It takes me a while to get the steps, but again, once I figure it out, I'm pretty good.

I look at these little girls, and I wonder, how long will it take for the mean comments of these competitive people to steal their joy? I love watching the "bad" girls. They're learning, they're figuring it out, and when people aren't rubbing in their faces that they're losing, they have a lot of fun. I don't really like watching the "good" girls. For them, it's all about winning. I've heard their parents pull them aside and tell them what they're doing wrong, how they need to fix it, and what they need to do to be champions. I see how the "good" girls treat the ones who aren't so good. I can't believe how early the snobbery starts. And I wonder, is it naturally a part of us, or do they learn it from their parents?

They're six and seven years old. When do they get to be kids? When do they get to have fun and enjoy life? The trouble with growing up is that the competitiveness just gets worse. Everyone wants a bigger house, a better car, the promotion, the contest win, the notch on their belt, the recognition. I admit, I'm guilty of it too. Although, if I haven't mentioned it recently, I am soooooooooo happy in my new house.

I wonder, how do we get ourselves to the place Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians? To be content in all things. Some friends and I were talking about this recently, in terms of being at the place where God is enough. It's easy to say, "God's enough for me," but what does it look like to mean it? When can we let go of the competitive streak? How can we let go of the need to be the best and just be content to run the race to the best of our abilities? To do so in a way that honors God? More importantly, how do we teach our children to do the same in a world that does the reverse?


Kay Day said...

This is much on my mind. I get very frustrated and saddened by this stuff.
My first thought when just starting your post was that they really should put the kids on one team and teach them true teamwork and team spirit. But if the adults don't even get it, then what's the chance of the kids ever getting it.
I would prefer the B team, too. And the B team moms.
It's sad that we people try to find our worth in such worthless things. Here are a couple of posts I did on worth:

Danica Favorite said...

Kay, at this age level, they split them in two. Next fall, they'll be playing as one team. I hope it'll make them all learn to work together. But as my hubby pointed out, the better players tend to dominate.