The most neglected athletic skill that any kid can learn is sportsmanship
It doesn't take skill, but it does take determination, and the willingness of coaches (and parents) to realize that their childrens' careers are not affected by a loss (even one with a bad referee) in a game.
Take a moment and read. My favorite quote:In sports, someone always wins and someone loses.
Lynch saw in this not a recipe for despair but the greatest of teachable moments for his young, inexperienced team.
One particularly brutal game sticks in Lynch's mind: "We -- a varsity team -- were getting crushed by another school's junior varsity." How's that for humiliation for a 16-year-old? "In games like that," Lynch said, "a boy's tendency is to pretend you don't care, to stop putting your best on the line."
I know what he was talking about. I've seen that "whatever" look on the faces of a team that's losing badly.
Lynch would have none of that. At halftime, he launched into his typical pep talk: "We're down 7-0. We're not going to win this game, but we've got 40 minutes. How are we going to respond? We can fall apart, we can blame each other, or we can give our best effort for 40 minutes more."
It worked. The margin of defeat didn't shrink, but the kids played their hearts out. "When you ask kids like that, they'll deliver," Lynch said.
"As the game went on, I watched our goalie continue to make save after save," he recalled. "And I thought, 'We talk to kids about doing the right thing when no one's looking. But actually, it takes a lot of courage to do the right thing when a lot of people are looking.' "
In other words, it's humiliating to give your all and still get killed. But the guys on Lynch's team refused to give up.
I'd suggest that Self-Reliance
and The Conduct of Life
are worthwhile reads for young people, too. Not least because in the process of reading them, you affirm and disagree, which defines you even better.