Winning Isn’t Everything: Lessons From The Soccer Field

This past weekend marked the end of my son’s soccer career. The competitive team he has been playing on since fifth grade lost all 3 games in the second round of the Florida State Cup.

No, that wasn’t fun, especially when you consider 2 of the 3 games were about 150 miles away…one game at 8 am on Saturday and the other at 2 pm on Sunday with his senior prom smack dab in the middle on Saturday night.  Several of his teammates also went to prom so, suffice it to say, it was a very long weekend.

I suppose there are some that would have forfeited going to the prom if it would jeopardize a potential win and opportunity to move on to the next round. I am just so glad that the team, as a whole, never created that culture or projected that mindset. As the coach said after the loss on Sunday, he appreciated our “low expectations”.

Don’t get me wrong, they always played to win and they were a good team over the past 8 years if you look at their win-loss record. However, by the time they were all in high school I don’t think any of the boys anticipated they would go on to play in college and/or professionally.

Call me crazy but…does it really matter if you win or lose? I believe participating in a sport ultimately needs to be about how you mindfully play a game on a field which, in turn, should determine how you mindfully play the game of life off the field and hopefully make you a great human being.

Win or Lose

All that said I have a confession to make…I didn’t understand why it was even necessary to play the Sunday game. I mean, the chances of going on to the next round were so slim…like paper slim. It would have taken a miracle and major planet alignment. So why not sing a round of “Know When To Fold ‘Em”, save us all the hassle and just forfeit in advance?download (5)

Enter my very wise friend Sarah who played soccer through college and just completed the MBA program at The University of Florida in her late thirties. She did it while maintaining a full time job as a regional director for a pharmaceutical company so she travels a lot for work. Some weeks she is gone Monday-Friday. But without fail, one very intense weekend a month for over two years she made her way to Gainesville from wherever she was to attend classes all day Saturday and Sunday.  And the remainder of the month when she wasn’t working she was slammed with assignments and group projects. She has an amazing work ethic!

So, when we were together this past Saturday afternoon, I mentioned to her my thoughts about just forfeiting the game the next day given their chances of winning and moving on, how tired most of them would be as a result of going to prom and no doubt staying up most of the night plus the distance required to travel to the game.

Why bother?”, I said.

She looked at me and said, “What are you…crazy?

Ummmm….hello…Beth Blacker Call Me Crazy

Anyway, she proceeded to reprimand me (it’s ok…I deserved it) about the fact that if I allowed my son to think it was ok to forfeit I was essentially telling him it’s ok to never complete a task or job if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. And, she advised me based on her years of playing, by forfeiting, there really was no way to determine the intended opponent’s true ranking in the tournament.  In other words, the actual point totals and not necessarily just who won or lost the games on Sunday were equally significant.facepalm

Yep, I deserved that big smack in the head.

I’ve always prided myself on being very driven and highly motivated. And I rarely have backed away from anything. In fact, I knew the odds were so stacked against me starting a baked goods company a few years ago that I subsequently shut down this past January.

That said, I never wanted anyone to tell me not to think the impossible could happen even when I had gone through 2 brokers and 3 manufacturers to try to launch a product nationwide. I still hired a third broker in the hopes that the planets would, in fact, align and we’d find the perfect co-packer. As many of you know, it didn’t happen but every phone call, email, meeting and sample run were all necessary whether we ever made it to retail shelves or not.

So what was up with my lapse in judgment this weekend?

I guess this is the point where I should probably tell you I have never been a very good soccer mom. I mean I understand all of the benefits for exposing children to sports but I don’t enjoy them myself. My idea of an athletic feat as a kid was tackling the key recipes in my mom’s dog-eared Betty Crocker cookbook.

I tried not to impose my lack of interest in knowing the difference between a goal and corner kick on either of my kids, but the fact remains I was not all that engaged through the years. The majority of the times the team traveled overnight my son went with his father. Being divorced, I had a hard time justifying us both paying for gas, meals, hotel rooms, etc. I’m not cheap, just practical.

Besides, I do have an older daughter who until she went to college did not necessarily need to forego her weekends to be 200 miles away watching her brother play. Or at least that’s my opinion.

Oh and did I mention I also had a business that required attending a lot of weekend events as well as helping my husband when his mortgage company exhibited at home shows around the state? So trust me, I wasn’t sitting at home eating bon bons.

I know I’m in the minority in my thinking about competitive sports but you totally lose me when parents get more worked up about the game than their kids. I guess they live by this famous quote…

Vince Lombardi Winning Isn't Everything

Me?…not so much.

And don’t even get me started with the crazy rules including the new “no water break” one here in Florida. Apparently someone has decided that our entire state is at a competitive disadvantage when teams travel out of state because nowhere else do they allow hydration.

That’s 40 minutes on either side of a 5 minute halftime…in Florida…you know, where it feels like 120 degrees most of the year on any open field…with no water?

Again, call me crazy but…THAT’S INSANE!!!!

Seriously, I thought my son was going to pass out two weeks ago when the humidity level was especially high and it was only 10 am. I was getting lightheaded just sitting on the sidelines

…under an umbrella


And that ladies and gentlemen is why I think despite my brain fart this past weekend, I try to always look at the bigger picture with my respect to raising my kids. I know, overall, I am good mom…or as I like to say…the best mom I know how to be. I will never be able to distinguish when a player is off sides, but I have tried to instill great values in both of my kids and thought the best lesson I could teach them in doing anything was to just always try to do their personal best and, of course, see it through until the end.

So the bottom line? I was never going to relish the 6 hours of total travel time that my son undoubtedly was going to sleep through for a two hour game that I pretty much knew there was a minuscule chance of winning (think as small as a speck of dust).

But I have to say, they gave it their all with exactly the right expectations and the right mindset.  And to snap this photo after the loss clearly shows just how much.


No frowns, no pouty faces…just a bunch of goofy guys who played to win but happened to lose…and got to celebrate the loss with donuts to really take everyone full circle to the days when they were 8 or 9 and there was always some sweet treat and Capri Suns after a game. My son told me last night that this photo is probably his all time favorite of the team. He thinks it shows the “fun” in their dysfunction. Score one for the anti-soccer mom !

They were, indeed, a GREAT team…win or lose on the field…and will no doubt continue to individually be great off the field as they move on in life and hopefully be remembered for a lot more than a bunch of soccer games.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!


Filed under Call Me Crazy, Life Lessons, Parenting

35 responses to “Winning Isn’t Everything: Lessons From The Soccer Field

  1. Loved your post, Beth!

    I’m a highly competitive person — always have been. I believe that this trait and my participation in sports has been a GREAT training ground for life and owning my own business. Although winning can feel great, it truly isn’t everything! Learning to compete with oneself — to constantly strive to be better than you were — as well as applauding and appreciating others for their success is something I wish more folks would learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cathy. I was really proud of how the team “man-ed up” and “showed up” for what they knew was essentially only for the benefit of the team they were playing. It will definitely be something they will encounter again and again in life.


  2. I do agree that they no one should forfeit a game. Everyone needs to learn how to be both a gracious winner and a good loser. That is life. And of course there is the follow through and giving the other time the opportunity to have their win. But i totally disagree with no water! What are they crazy? I’d slip my some water to my son if I were you! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I said, I needed a whack on the side of my head re: not forfeiting. I think I was overwhelmed by the smell of chocolate from the festival I was at that day 🙂 I would, of course, like to whack the side of the heads of the people who made the dumb water rule.


  3. Interesting post, Beth. Do you offer business services?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, since I let go of my baked goods company earlier this year, I have been helping a few companies get more recognition and credibility through face to face networking but I will actually be moving into a full time position in the next few weeks as the Director of Strategic Relationships (I know, a very fancy title) for my husband’s mortgage company. We’ve sort of danced around this on and off through the years and decided now was the time to finally pull the trigger 🙂 I’ll keep you posted!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. theresarose

    As a parent, I agree with everything you wrote. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was growing up, my parents never attended anything we did, school or sports. Were they indifferent, bad parents? No, they were working! Different times, different priorities, I guess. Not having kids, I just don’t get the whole “soccer mom” mentality, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My parents weren’t particularly involved either Carol and they were good parents too. I think our society has just put incredible pressure on parents and kids in recent years to be at everything and do everything and ultimately everyone is tired. So where’s the benefit???


  6. Great share Beth. My little Katie loves soccer and I too don’t find it very exciting to watch. She is VERY competitive and does not like to lose. She pushes for everything so that will get her far in life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Beth.

    I am bad bad bad at allowing my children to quit something that they’ve started. But mostly it’s because it’s easier on me to just not to deal with the stress of the hussle. I hate feeling rushed, I like to take my time to get ready and arrive early. And with working full time, I have to hussle for anything that happens with the kids after work and I hate that feeling. It takes me a long time to recover from a hussle.

    Visiting from the #TBB #Fridaysharefest

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved your article! You raise some good points. Sometimes we think winning is everything. Yet, the value is in what we learn when we go through the process, whether we fail or lose. I believe we learn more from our failures than successes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sonya

    I think it really comes down to mindset, some people are just naturally competitive.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post Beth! I love that you can be yourself and share your feeling no matter what anything thinks!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well Bet, Sarah as spot on and it shows your character that you listened to her. I race sailboats and have seen many teams forfeit when they think they cannot win a regatta. They go home early. I have also people get so far ahead in a series of races that they never show up for the last couple saying “we have enough points to win so why bother.” Sportsmanship and playing until the end is where character is established and maintained. Yes, the long drive and your sacrifice are honorable and most honorable is your unconditional support of your children to do the right things.
    I love this story and Your kids have an understanding Mom!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. You may not have been the world’s most engaged soccer mom, but you were there and your son will appreciate it for the rest of his life. (P.S. I don’t know the terminology either, if that makes you feel any better!)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, I must agree with your friend here. As having played soccer when I was younger, and being very much a soccer, or rather football, fan (being European I cannot really accept to call it soccer) ;-). And I do not think the wanting to win a game, that there’s anything wrong with that. Of course sometimes parents are worse than the kids, but that happens in a lot of areas, not only in sports, being I think that the parents desperately want the children to become what they themselves never managed…perhaps. However, soccer/football is a wonderful team play, you learn to work together and trust each other, you have a lot of fun. And of course you want to win a game, but just because you do not win does not mean that it’s not as important. You need to learn to lose and to win. By you saying that there was no need to play their last game as they were out of it anyway, would that not also be a bit to contradict yourself here? To say that if they cannot win, then what’s the point of playing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trust me, my thought process over playing vs not playing the last game was definitely a lapse in judgement. I have always taught my kids to “suck it up” and had prom not been in the mix I never would have even gone the direction I did in my head (and out my mouth). I know I was wrong in my thinking and totally owned it 🙂


  15. Yes, sometimes the continued commitment to something is the real valued lesson. Also how to handle the loss is a great lesson to learn. It reminds of that Progressive After School Special commercial.
    “Let’s get some ice cream, Champ.”
    “Can I get sprinkles?”
    “Sprinkles are for winners.”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. it gets easier…. when youre a grandma!


  17. I struggled with the anti-soccer mom thing myself. It’s just boring. But, I loved my son and wanted to be there for him. He wasn’t on a winning team and sometimes I wanted to protect him from losing so often, maybe even by quitting. But, inside my head I had a voice much like your friends. My son was having fun and learning life lessons. He didn’t want to quite. He was experiencing life with his friends. And so, we kept going and now years later we laugh about the losing team he was on and then reminisce about the fun he had. The life skills my son learned also assisted him in getting an MBA while being a father and working full time. In retrospect that was worth it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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