Our son Brock (age 6) is playing flag football for the second season this year. Unlike his father, Brock is a pretty good athlete. Along with some of his other classmates that are also solid athletically, they decided to play “up” a grade and are competing against kids older-bigger-stronger-faster than they are. As you can imagine, it’s been a challenging season playing against more mature kids.
Brock’s coach is awesome. While my dad was a football coach for many years and I’m a big fan and student of the game, I never PLAYED football. Brock’s coach, Coach Patrick, played college football and he is really good with the kids. Even when they are overwhelmed by the more experienced players on the other side, he is positive and works hard to teach the kids structure and teamwork through football.
Last weekend the light switch flipped. We had a double header, game one against the undefeated 49ers, game two against the third place Seahawks (we are playing in an NFL Flag league). It looked like it would be a long day for Brock’s Chiefs playing two solid teams when we were a mere 1-4 going in. Game one went as expected. The 49ers, who play together year around and have been for a long time, got off to a great start and things unraveled quickly. However, game two was a different story.
In game two, the Chiefs made some defensive adjustments and got off to a great start. They never trailed and surprisingly trounced the #3 seeded Seahawks. It was inspiring honestly. A group of younger kids took a solid team to the woodshed. These moments happen in sports sometimes, but not very often. As the upset unfolded, the kids, coaches, and parents were feeling the energy. In the end, we were all so proud of them for their iconic victory. Then the best part happened…
After the teams shook hands, a grandfather of one of the kids from the other team walked over to our sideline to shake Coach Patrick’s hand. He said, “I’m a grandpa of one of the kids on the other team. Your kids played great. They pulled flags better than any team we have played all season. You deserved to win today.”
This gesture brought me to tears.
Okay, those that know me know that I’m a softie. But hey, I’ve been in and around sports my entire life. Very few times have there been moments like this where someone has made a classy move in a moment of defeat. Are the Chiefs suddenly going to win the upcoming playoffs? No. But a great lesson can be learned from this grandpa’s gesture.
Congratulate and salute excellence when it happens. In victory and defeat. Especially in the latter. Sportsmanship matters. The kids may not remember that grandpa’s effort in coming across the field to compliment them, but Coach Patrick will. I will. The parents that heard it will.
When appropriate, be the complimentary grandpa. Point out great effort. Shine a light on excellence. In victory and (yes) in defeat.
Have a great week ahead. Go Chiefs!