Let me tell you a story…
Over 15 years ago when I was a teenager I have a distinct memory of brother playing competitive soccer. Not only do I remember how hard my brother worked or how much my parents traveled, but I remember the stress and how serious the parents, coaches and players would take an 11 year olds soccer game.
I’ve seen it all. Yelling parents, cursing from coaches, and fist fights between players, parents and even one between a 12 year old and a parent from the opposing team. After all the yelling, screaming, and bad sportsmanship, sweat and tears do you think anyone even remembers the score of the game? I don’t.
How many of these guys are playing professional soccer right? I can’t think of anyone from my brother’s team. After all the years that have passed the only real question is who really cares?
I currently coach kid’s jiu jitsu. So I understand why a child would take competition so seriously. They have not lived very long yet so the competition seems big by comparison. I understand why parents would take competition so seriously. It’s their child who they love very much and they want to see them succeed and, in some cases, live through their child’s success. I understand why coaches would take a competition so seriously. They want their athlete to do well and, in some cases, think that it is a reflection of their own coaching ability. I get it! It doesn’t mean we should take it so seriously.
We all have to remember that this is a child’s sports competition. It is a learning process for the child, the parent, and the coach. It’s to teach the child how to win, how to lose, and how to learn. When we hyper focus on just the winning, we loose sight of what the real goal is, which is to build character.
This is especially true in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Martial arts is not just a sporting event. It’s also a life skill. It builds confidence, respect, discipline, problem solving, as well as self-defense. People may not remember who won or who lost at a tournament but they will remember how you treat people. Were you respectful? Did you have good sportsmanship? Or were you aggressive and violent?
So next time your at a children’s Jiu Jitsu tournament remember we as martial artist are not just in the business of teaching the arts. We also in the business of making better people. So set the example.