Victory will be had
This is an email I just sent to the principal of my daughter's middle school. Jasmine called me this morning to tell me that she did not make the field hockey team. She was disapointed, and so was I. The school sports are so competitive. They only want kids who have been playing the sports since toddler-hood. It's frustrating. Anyway, this one is much nicer than the original letter which simply stated -"Yo bitch! Stop dissin' my kid or I'll get my deuce-deuce and pop a cap in yo ass!"
I’m writing to you to discuss the team sport situation. My daughter, Jasmine is in 7th grade at your school. Just this week she tried out for girls Field Hockey. Much to her disappointment, and ours, she did not make the team. I understand that many kids try out for team sports at your school and not everyone can make the teams. My question is – Why not? It seems that the selection of athletes made for these sports are just that, competitive athletes. The teams are comprised of kids who have been playing organized sports for most of their childhood and are geared the best for winning. Where does that leave all the other students who’s skill levels are lower, but whose drive to be involved is just as great?
Jasmine informed me that any girl on the team in 6th grade automatically became a member of the team this year. While this seems like a great way to insure a winning team, it also just completely obliterated the other girls’ hopes of playing field hockey in the future. What chance does an 8th grade girl stand when trying out, knowing that the last two years worth of players are guaranteed a place on the team? The only thing this kind of approach guarantees for my daughter is that she won’t be playing field hockey at all in high school.
We all know that winning is the major focus of any sport. This edict is contradictory to the attitudes we try to foster in our kids. We tell our kids to get involved. We tell our kids to get off the couch and get moving. We tell them to have passion about things beyond themselves. And yet when they really try, they’re met with rejection because they have not been rehearsing these roles since pre-school. Field Hockey is not the only club that my daughter has tried out for. Basketball, Drama, and Show Choir also held similar fates for her. Faced with the challenge of trying out with kids who have been dribbling, singing, and acting since childhood, she didn’t stand much of a chance.
There were a few bright spots. Basketball had a “B” team of sorts. A team for kids who weren’t good enough to represent their school, but still wanted to play. The kids played in school clothes and street shoes and had fun. She also made a similar team for track. She was allowed to compete only at home meets, and in a category where the coach didn’t have a top notch player. She was not the fastest runner there. In one instance, she was even the slowest. But you what? That’s ok. She tried so hard. She made an effort, got involved and did her best. I can still picture the look on her face when she was finishing a grueling lap that she knew she had not won. She was utterly defeated. Then she heard our voices. Me, screaming like a maniac, telling her she could do it. Her friends cheering her name and clapping. Jasmine’s whole demeanor changed in that moment. She got that extra boost of pep and crossed the finish line. She’d lost the race, but won so much more.
The small chances that Jasmine has had to participate have really taught her a lot about herself. They have shown her the strength she has inside and what she can really accomplish when she tries. Those lessons are far more valuable than a winning pennant to hang in the gym. Please consider giving a chance to the motivated kids who want to be involved. You may not win any trophies, but victory will be had.