“It’s not fair!” We have all heard this saying. We’ve all probably said it at some point in our life. It’s a common phrase we hear children exclaim, and it generally happens when things don’t go their way. And as far as I can recall, most every parent’s response to that statement is along the lines of, “Get over it. Life isn’t fair.”
And guess what? It’s still not fair. It never will be fair, and we should not expect it to be fair.
So let’s make sure we are not teaching our children contrary to what we tell them.
In July, we moved back to Rifle, CO. Hannah and Joshua have always played soccer, and for the most part, I’ve always been their coach. This go around my plan was to coach Hannah for the next three years and play parent only for Joshua. Unfortunately, when I signed them both up, they only had two kids enrolled on each of their teams, and neither team had a coach. Not fair.
But rather than be a whiner, I wanted to be a problem solver. I offered to coach both teams and also help recruit some players and hopefully a coach to replace me.
Hannah’s team came together pretty well, but Joshua’s team has been a different story. Due to a lack of help in the beginning, and my schedule, I had to hold a few practices at the same time as my daughters. My son’s team is a U10 team and Hannah’s is a U15 team. Basically it’s 2nd-4th grade boys and 6th-8th grade girls. Well, a few of the boy’s parents didn’t like this arrangement. Apparently it didn’t seem fair.
Fortunately, another parent, Tracy, stepped up and has been doing an awesome job. She still wanted me to help out, especially during games, so I’ve been very much involved. But there was still a problem of a lack of numbers, and one other we yet knew about.
Our first game we were short two players for a full team on the field (our league plays 7 v 7). Well that’s not fair. And it was at this time that we discovered our team was placed within the upper division of the two divisions within this league. How did we discover this? We played against one of the best U10 boys teams I’ve ever seen around the Western Slope of Colorado. It was completely unfair.
Even after the visiting team allowed us to play one of their player’s older brother (a U11 player) on our team (and yeah I know, it’s not within the rules), we still lost somewhere around fifteen or twenty to zero. We had only one shot on goal. It was ugly. It was completely unfair.
So what would you do? What would you have done as a parent? What would you have done as a player, a coach?
One of the players who was brand new, didn’t return to a practice after that. Then a second player quit coming to practice. And he was the best player on the team…and a really good player as well.
So what would you do?
I can tell you what I did.
I immediately started thinking of how to get better. How do we learn from this?
How do we help these young boys understand that the only thing that ultimately matters is improving
themselves. Because the reality is, if they are getting better, then we are doing our job as coaches. And the bigger reality is, stop comparing yourself to others and just work on being a better version of yourself. It’s not what happens to you that matters. It’s how your respond to what happens to you that matters.
The coach and I collaborated and continued recruiting to pick up new players, and having organized, solid practices. We picked up a couple more boys, which was great. My son was coming home from practice excited and happy.
Then came our second game. It was more competitive, but we still lost 7-2. Had we had the other two boys with us, I think we would have had a more evenly matched “fair” game.
But again, all that matters is if we are improving as soccer players. How do we handle adversity? How do we demonstrate to these boys that the BEST response is not to quit, but to work harder, keep a positive attitude, and not back down from the challenge.
I managed to convince the second player that quit to come back and play, but that only lasted one or two practices. Then he quit again. But the new player that we never heard from showed up for the week of practice before our third game.
The third game arrived. And wow, it was another strong team. I think we had two or three shots on goal and lost somewhere around 11-0. Yeah, it could be construed yet again as being unfair, but every one of the kids showed heart and courage. Our team of mostly second and third graders with three new players didn’t quit. I was proud of their effort. I’m also proud of the parents that have kept the right attitude.
So that is where we stand right now. We still have four more games to go. I’m curious to see how this ends. I don’t necessarily believe we will turn this all around and start being some kind of dynamic, highly skilled soccer team by the end of this season. But if we (coaches, parents, and players) all remember that we need to keep positive, work hard, and continue to improve, I’m willing to bet that these boys will be far better off in the long run in life than those that quit or would have quit.
Life is not fair. Stuff happens. People get sick. People have tragic things happen to them. People lose loved ones, suffer abuse, and so much more. Some of these boys might encounter these tough and unfair situations. But if this season can help them understand that it’s not what happens to us that matters, but how we respond to what happens to us, then we as coaches and parents have done our job well.
I hope this will inspire parents, coaches, and players to never quit, especially if something is “not fair.” Let’s develop the strength of character, integrity, and resolve to be overcomers. To be the type of people that look at adversity straight on and smile.
It’s not what happens to us that matters. It’s how we respond to what happens to us that matters.
Respond well, and it will make for a far more successful and happy life.