Lance Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs. Tonya Harding instigating a smash to her opponent’s knee. Gymnast Dong Fangxiao falsifying her age in order to compete in the 2000 Olympics.
Kids, this is NOT how the sport is played. Or rather, not how the sport should be played.
And mom and dad, don’t even think of going there. In all likelihood your kid won’t ever get drafted by a professional sports team, so don’t start big league pressure that could encourage play outside the rules.
Yeah, yeah, I know…your seven-year-old soccer prodigy has a left foot you’ve already insured with Lloyd’s of London. Just don’t ramp up the Sports Parent Crazy until your kid has weathered a growth spurt, an inevitable knee injury, and the focus-shattering discovery of the super-cute opposite sex.
Until then, let’s try to remember all the other great lessons that sports have to offer our kids beside “winning at all costs.”
Sara Tucholsky: “Success” has many definitions.
During a college softball game, senior Sara Tucholsky hit a three-run homer for her first time ever. But while rounding first base, Tucholsky blew out her knee, and the umpires said that for her run to count she’d have to round the bases without help from her own team. However, the umpires didn’t mention anything about Tucholsky getting help from the other team.
Ivan Fernandez Anay: Build character, as well as muscle.
Spanish runner Ivan Fernandez Anay knew from the get-go that he wasn’t going to beat Abel Mutai in this race. From the USA Today story
He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai — bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner — the certain winner of the race — mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.
Fernandez Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.
Akiko Suzuki: Being healthy is its own victory.
In a sport of pretty girls in little boxes filled with eating disorders and a short competitive shelf life, Japanese figure skater Akiko Suzuki fought back from career-ending anorexia. Strong, healthy, and now competing against athletes almost a decade younger than she was, Suzuki skated to a bronze medal at the 2012 World Figure Skating championship.
Derek Redmond: Not winning can still be winning.
Just get out your tissues now. I’ll wait. Ready?
Derek Redmond was the favorite to win the 400 metres at the 1992 Olympics. But then his hamstring tore during his race. And that sucked. Redmond decided that he wasn’t going to be taken off the Olympic track on a stretcher, and so he got up and kept running. And his dad helped him.
Working hard and believing in yourself is its own kind of “drug.”
Remember when it was just you and your bike, Lance?
Seems so long ago.