The Value of Letting Kids Lose

At Deadspin, Drew Magary looks at America’s ‘Kid-Competition Complex’ and explains why it’s problematic:

I have a 5-year-old son who hates losing. I don’t mean this as a compliment. He BLOWS at losing. He rigs pretty much any game in the backyard in his favor, and if you call him out on him, he gives you a red card (he’s also the ref). And if you beat him (and, as it stands now, I can totally beat him at everything), he cries and cries and cries until you let him win the next game so he stops crying. I took him to a bar to watch Mexico play Holland in the World Cup and he arbitrarily cheered on Mexico. When they blew the game, he acted like a wailing widow throwing herself on a coffin.

And so I’ve had to spend a great amount of energy teaching my son to lose, to explain to him that you can play hard and play well and still have the misfortune of losing. I need to get him to accept the value of losing, which is frankly counter to how losing is portrayed in the American mainstream. Losers are shunned. Losers are ridiculed. “Loser” is Donald Trump’s favorite insult, which is just so telling. Jürgen Klinsmann publicly stated that the U.S. men’s soccer team couldn’t win the World Cup, and for that obvious assessment, he was scorned by Michael Wilbon and other assorted members of the Hot Take Collective. For Wilbon, even acknowledging the reality of losing is itself a way of losing. In his eyes, real competitors don’t anticipate loss. They delude themselves into the possibility of winning even when that’s stupid. This is why he told Klinsmann to get out of America. Americans do not think this way. Americans compete.

Read the story

Photo: Luyen Chou