Last weekend, my wife Windsor and I had the pleasure of watching our son Abe compete with the Cheyenne Mountain tennis team at the Pueblo Invitational. He and his doubles partner Cole played four matches over the course of two days, claiming the victory each time.
At high school sporting events, there is frequently a culminating awards ceremony. If your kid has done well, they are eager to stay and be recognized. If not, they resent it.
This time, Abe had done exceptionally well. As the ceremony began and the names of his competitors were called for 2nd and 3rd place, he smiled knowingly. What he was too exhausted to notice, however, was that the awards, regardless of what they represented, looked the same: generic bronze with off-white ribbon. Winners and losers received identical awards then stood shoulder-to-shoulder, indistinguishable from one another.
“How insulting,” I thought. After all, my son is sixteen, an age when such namby-pamby political correctness ought to be eradicated.
Beyond wanting my son to receive his due, I actually think there is value in knowing you have won or lost. Both experiences teach us something. Abe and Cole won their match because they have each spent countless hours perfecting their game. If they had not won, that would signal them to work harder. Thus, winning teaches us that diligence is rewarded and loss teaches us that the things worth doing in life don’t come easily.