Reader’s Letter: When did winning become so important?


Annemarie Smit writes:

Dear Coach,

If you win through bad sportsmanship, that’s no real victory,” Babe Didrickson Zaharias once said.

When and why did winning become so important? An idol of current society and school culture. It grieves me.

This is the coach’s first duty and responsibility. Not winning. Sport is only a platform for teaching and education. A learning experience through which children are empowered to fulfill their place in the adult world.

Under no circumstances is it a child’s duty to make you look or feel good as a coach. YOU are the adult, they are just the children.

A child is not the playground for your emotions. Win them, you are proud. Lose them… Pride must always be palpable between a coach and his team; regardless of what the scoreboard screams. A child must know that he is loved unconditionally. Performance does not define character and love.

Coaching where a child is taught to act outside the rules is a reflection on the coach’s integrity and not on the child. A child just wants to please his coach.

Why are we surprised that adults in work situations break rules to achieve success? If it is acceptable at school level on the sports field and children are coached in this way, it forms part of their character. Who failed?

With the golden cup in hand, verbal breakdown is the order of the day. How do you fight for anti-bullying behaviour? Double standards mr. and Mrs. Coach.

Losing is part of life. Empower children to be able to deal with it and grow and develop as people through it.

If your integrity has been overtaken by winning, it’s time to hang up your whistle. Point and done.