There was quite a bit of snubbery going on this weekend.
Two college teams faced each other in women’s basketball for the national championship. In the game leading up to the championship, Caitlin Clark, a stand-out player, refused to guard someone from the other team. She stayed 10-feet-away and then waved her hand, essentially saying, “Go ahead, shoot. You’ll miss anyway. I’m not worried about you.” Staying back was fine, waving her hand wasn’t. It was demeaning and dismissive.
When Caitlin’s team lost a few days later, the standout star from the other team, Angel, taunted Caitlin after the win. Angel waved her hand in front of Caitlin, pointing to her ring finger – not just once, but several times – essentially saying, “I won the ring, you didn’t. Ha!” The joy was fine, the taunting wasn’t. It was arrogant and cruel.
I don’t know why it has stayed with me. I mean, it’s just sports, right? Just a competition. The girls were fired up, who can blame them?
But it’s not just sports. It’s not okay.
I’m not against being competitive. Our crew plays a boatload of cards and we’ve had more than a few meltdowns after an intense loss (Don’t worry, Ive promised the kids I’ll do better).
Overall though, we train our kiddos (and ourselves) to handle the loss, but also to handle the win. There might be a touch of good-natured gloating, but at the end of the day we want to look across the table and smile sincerely into the heart across the way. To say, “Good game. You played well. That was fun.”
It bugs me when we take ourselves so seriously that we demean the opponent, taunt them in cruel ways, or make them feel poorly about themselves. It’s like my husband says to our competitive kids, “You want to beat the best when they’re at their best.” That means it’s all about encouraging the competition, speaking life, remembering it’s a game and holding on to character and humility as you thrash their hineys… I mean, win the game.
I know we’re all susceptible to a little trash talk, but let’s remember people really are watching. I was sitting with my daughter and her basketball team as they watched the championship. I wished for a better example for their high-school hearts. I wished for great players to acknowledge each other, that they WOULD shake hands, smile sincerely and truly appreciate the incredible fight they both gave for the win.
Ah, well. Maybe next year.