I've been reading some of the free online content of the New York Times. There's an article there, "For Children, The Benefits of a Losing Team." It's a pretty good read about how kids can sometimes learn more from being on a losing team than a winning team.
I've never played on a team sport. Well, that's not quite true. When I was about 13 years old, our neighborhood started up a boys' baseball team, and my parents decided to put me on it.
It was undoubtedly one of the most terrifying memories of my life. To this day, I still can not watch a game of baseball without my heartrate skyrocketing. My palms sweat, and I start exhibiting nervous ticks (like an undeniable urge to eat cheetos).
To say I sucked at baseball would be a serious understatement. I mean, Steven Hawking would be better at it.
I may have played in one or two games, and they were as pitiful as those despicable games of dodgeball those of us older than 30 were subjected to in junior high. I caught more high flies with the open expanse of my forehead than with my (still spankin' brand new to this day) baseball mitt.
I remember on gamedays, getting on my knees, praying to God for an afternoon of rain. I have yet to forgive him for failing to deliver, and giving us the sunniest, warmest damned summer of my youthful memory.
That first season, we had an undefeated record. We beat everyone, some of them so badly I actually would play for most of the game. I didn't learn anything more than a life-long despise of the game, with the silly hats and those strange pants with the strap. When they had the ceremony where every team member got a trophy, I stayed at home, and when the coach of the team (what a crazy maniac, he'd hit the ball right at us as hard as he could to teach us a lesson on how to be men) came by to give me my trophy, I for a moment wondered if he simply could not cross the threshold of our home unless the man of the house invited him in.
Would it have been a better experience if it had been a losing team? I doubt it. Teaching kids how to lose is really 100 times more difficult than teaching them how to win, and I don't think that coach had it in him. And getting to play in more games? The article suggests that as a plus.
I would have cut myself.
Kids have it really rough these days. I was allowed to pursue a love of reading, years of classical piano, and the overactive imagination of having only four channels on the TV. Libraries didn't have an age limit on the books I borrowed, my parents allowed me to join an adult book club (two of the earliest books I can remember was that book Alive, and Wifey), and, oh yes, Star Trek was heavily into syndication.
Hardly room for team sports.