Is having fun not enough?


The question asked is having fun not enough? Must winning be the only acceptable result? Before I explain why I ask, a brief interlude to discuss the status of my writing.

Bear daring me to try to move him from my chair

My novels are lonely!

The Christmas season is in full bloom and I have the post-nanowrimo malaise. This is the second consecutive day without reading or writing on either of my draft novels. The first was put away to allow me to concentrate on the challenge. It is still hiding in my word processor. The one written during the challenge is staring at me with hopeful eyes. Like my labs, Duke and Bear, it is crying for attention. I feel badly that I am ignoring it but today is a downtime day. This is my daily dose of wordsmithing.

“‘Tis the season to be jolly” but sometimes events struggle to dampen one’s spirits. A minor and inconsequential blip in my happiness yesterday was coaching the boys’ soccer team and losing. On a scale of 1-10 in importance, it doesn’t make the scale. It remains the season to be jolly for these boys. They consider wins and losses less important than playing. Coaches need to keep this in mind when working with youngsters this age.

Pipeline SC 2008 Gold Courtesy Allison Erdman
Pipeline SC 2008 Gold Courtesy Allison Erdman

I posted about the Pipeline 2008 Boys Gold teams season earlier. They lost yesterday yet not one appeared distressed by the result. Throughout the match, I heard parents calling support to their children and the team. When the game was over, I saw the parents eager to congratulate their child and teammates on a good game played. Contrast these parents of eight and nine year old boys to the man in the next paragraph.


Is performance most important for a child?

When does winning become the only acceptable outcome? When does trying become not enough? I watched another soccer game. I listened to one of the parents berating his daughter for her play. The girl might be eleven or twelve. When she was on the pitch, her father was screaming at her most of the time, correcting her play. He called her by first name initially. When she didn’t change her play as he wanted, he screamed at her using her full name.

Eventually, she was subbed for and came to the bench to sit with her teammates. Her father came up behind her and compared her play to players on the other team. The entire time he was talking, she refused to look at him. The girl was weeping. The father seemed not to notice the effect his criticism in front of teammates and fans was having on her. Ugly thought, maybe he noticed but didn’t care.

So I wonder, is there a magic age when perfection in performance becomes more important than having fun. Is it between nine and eleven or twelve? Should there be an age?

Readers, do you think there is a magic age? Is having fun not enough? Use the comments to give me your opinion.





  1. I actually dread this for my daughter. If she takes after DH or me, she is not going to be a star player. We enrolled her in dance and gymnastics because she wanted to join, and she loves them. Both a very non-competitive and focus on the kids having fun.

    But she’s not even in kindergarten yet.

    I want her to find a physical outlet she enjoys and that she can continue to do for the health and fitness benefits long after high-school and college. I worry, though. I want these experiences to build up her self-esteem, not tear it down. DH and have already discussed the moment dance or gymnastics gets competitive, it may be time to pull her.

    • Dwane

      I tried to contrast how my team’s parents acted and how the daughter’s father acted.
      Your goal of building her self-esteem should be the goal of every parent. Sometimes parents forget it should be enjoyable for the child also. If it is, they will put everything they have as they participate or compete. Competition is good. If you mean a time that competing becomes destructive to self-esteem, I agree. You have to decide if it is her performance that is affecting her esteem or if it an outside force such as a parent or coach. You can support her if it a matter of her ability. If it is another parent or coach, find another place.
      You have many years, it sounds like, in the enjoyment (and angst) watching her in whatever endeavor she desires and you support.
      My wife and I followed my son from t-ball at 4, through soccer, lacrosse, basketball, college lacrosse, and some club lacrosse after college. My daughter played high school lacrosse, was a high school thesbian, college crew (rowing) and club rugby!
      Now we follow as conflicting schedules permit: granddaughter and grandson – soccer, grandson -lacrosse, soccer or football, granddaughter -field hockey, and other challenges such as dancing. The joy continues!

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