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A Lesson on Losing

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Losing blows. This is not earth-shattering news. Losing blows because it is the opposite of winning. In fact, the definition of losing is the “failure to win” (thefreedictionary.com). It means you were defeated, your team did not measure up, or you blew the last play. Suffice it to say, losing hurts. Which is why it is such a good thing.

One of the greatest coaches in sport’s history, Vince Lombardi, said “if you can accept losing, you can’t win” (brainyquote.com). I do not want players to accept losing, defeat, or failure. I expect them to learn from it, otherwise they will make the same mistakes each game and continue losing.

When I was in sixth grade, I lost. Time took away the plays and the final score, but I still have a memento from that game. I stripped off my gear next to the swinging chain-link gate at the side of the field. I was shaking with anger as I put my shoulder pads into my bag. I distinctly remember kneeling, then, with a giant yell, I slammed my fist down into the ground. Well, I did not hit the ground. I smashed my hand onto the one patch of concrete next to the chain-link gate.

Every angry feeling I had about the game disappeared in an explosion of pain radiating up my arm. I punched the concrete so hard that I compacted my ring and pinkie knuckles on my right hand. The kicker is I never told my parents. I just waited for a week as the swelling subsided and my hand stopped seizing up.

There are two main lessons to take from my angry pugilism. One, if you are going to hit something, avoid concrete or other really hard objects. Two, the only thing I remember about that game is that I lost. I do not remember how well or poorly I played defense. I forgot if I made good passes or dropped a lot of balls. The only lesson I ever learned from that game is to avoid hitting really hard objects.

So when you lose it is important to set anger and frustration aside. Take the emotion out of your loss for a few minutes and take stock of how the game went for you and your team. Try identifying any mistakes you made during the game, and work on correcting them for the next game.

Once you identify those mistakes go ahead and get angry. Vent, scream, let it out. Then get over it. Losing may blow, but it is only permanent if you fail to change before the next game.

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Featured Image Credit – kennysilva.net



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Today, in a time span of less than six hours, I heard more curse words strung together than I ever heard before. I listened to young children say words they did not understand, and senior players belting out words that they certainly understood. While writing this I am shaking my head in frustration. There is a time and a place for bad language, but until you reach twenty-one there is not a single situation so bad that requires vehement cursing.

George Washington - "Stop Cursing!"
George Washington – “Stop Cursing!”

George Washington once stated: “the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” Speaking to young players for a moment; when you curse you cast your immaturity into sharp relief. When you drop an F-bomb you only show your inability to speak intelligently without resorting to base insults. Yet, in these situations I do not blame the child. I blame the parents.

A few years back, when Atlanta Youth Lacrosse was still at Murphy Candler Park. I was playing against two opponents who cursed all game. The officials put them in the penalty box over and over again, but neither player seemed to understand that they should firmly shut their mouths. When the game ended, I packed my gear into my bag and walked over to my dad. I passed my two opponents and their father. He was dropping curse words left and right about how terrible the referees were. Put simply, the apples did not fall very far from the tree.

Now I only blame the parents if the child is under sixteen. If a sixteen-year-old player is cursing at or around me while at AYL. He is going to get a serious talking to. Players, there comes a time when you must step out on your own as a responsible individual. Cursing shows that your are still a child, and not worthy of additional responsibilities.

Looking back on my formative years, I cannot say there was a good reason for me to curse at another person. However, I was impulsive. I lacked the what I now call the “brain-mouth connection.” I cursed because I was frustrated at some perceived slight or the lack of fairness directed my way by a person or situation. I became proficient at stringing together imaginative combinations that left my friends’ mouths on the floor. The problem was, I did not understand the full impact of my words. I said them without a care in the world. Never realizing how foolish they made me appear.

As an adult, and role model for our youth players, I cannot afford to lose control of my mouth. So I replace my curse words with “G” rated words. Which I now give to all of our players, parents, adult fans, and coaches:

  • Fishsticks!
  • Jimmeny Christmas!
  • Darn (or Darnit)!
  • Crud!
  • Shucks!
  • Awwwwwww!
  • Shoot!
  • Weak!

Feel free to add to this list, but it should provide everyone with a basic filter for curse words.

We Don't Encourage This ^

We Don't Encourage This ^

Finally, when players, coaches, and fans curse during a lacrosse game you disgrace yourselves. Worse, you disgrace the game. There is a reason why the rulebook requires a minimum 1-minute Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty for cursing starting at “damn.” At Atlanta Youth Lacrosse we do not tolerate sullying the game that we love and respect. I do not care if cursing is a family thing like the two opponents I once played against. Or if you just learned a new and shocking curse word. You do not curse on the lacrosse field. Treat it like a church and keep your mouth to yourself. If that concept does not click for you then remember what my mom used to tell me: “Gordon, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

Featured Image Credit – www.questions.thoughts.com