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Good Sportsmanship: Always A Good Lesson

Have you ever used or heard the phrase, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose… it’s how you play the game.” If you are a parent with a kid […]

Have you ever used or heard the phrase, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose… it’s how you play the game.” If you are a parent with a kid who has ever participated in sports, I’m sure you’ve used that exact line!

It reminded me of a radio show I did a while back about a high school athlete named Meghan. As a seasoned competitor, she had just won a prestigious state title. And, to make it even better, she was actually the first girl to win that particular title in over 20 years! However, while still participating later that day, during her last race, a fellow competitor collapsed on the field.

It was at that point, Meghan made what some would think was a surprising choice. Instead of continuing to run toward what inevitably would have been the state championship title, Meghan stopped in her tracks to help the fallen student. Later, she told reporters curious about her choice, that helping her fellow competitor across the finish line was more satisfying than winning.

I just wanted to write about this story because while it is not only touching, it also illustrates a very valuable perspective on competition. You see, I encounter a lot of parents who try to protect their kids from competition.

Now don’t get me wrong, competition can be a destructive and extremely negative thing. This applies particularly to certain personality types, who can take competition pretty seriously. Yet, if your kids don’t know how to handle any type of competition or always steer clear of it, it will hurt them in the long run. Believe it or not, healthy competition exists!

Taking the right approach and with the proper guidance, competition trained and groomed from a healthy perspective can inspire growth, teach people to always give everything they try their best effort, to be ambitious and to aspire to goals further than they ever thought possible. On the other hand, unhealthy competition can cause jealousy, anger, stress, resentment and conflict.

But if you don’t teach your children the difference, what are they apt to do? Neither alternative is good: either they’ll learn to be afraid of competition or take the other extreme and become too competitive!

When talk turns to competition, it’s easy to immediately think in terms of sports, but our children can experience competition in a variety of activities, such as debate, band, academics or any other activity your kid is passionate about. Why rob your kids of the opportunity to learn about teamwork and to push themselves toward excellence as one the greatest benefits of participation in sports and extracurricular activities?

Encouraging and nurturing these qualities however, should be the focus in these activities, and not just winning at any or all costs. This should be the lesson we reinforce in our kids so they grow into someone with integrity, like Meghan. Trust me, this instruction will allow your child to go much further and serve them so much better in life, than building and fueling an obsession for “the win.”

It is your responsibility to show your kids the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. Print out today’s message and use Meghan’s story to show them the difference! Make sure whatever passion they are pursuing, they do so with excellence and a spirit of achievement. But also remain vigilant that they never sacrifice their integrity on the altar of a victory!

You can use the classic line, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.” Just be sure to tell them why! Most kids and teens only hear this as an afterthought on the heels of a defeat. Reinforce this concept at the point of any and every victory, as well.

And you might want to take a close look at all the personalities in your household. After all, you might be the personality in your family who could take competition a bit too seriously! If your kid learns about competition from you, what would they take away from the examples you’re setting? Always remember what is most important! Is it winning? Or is it your relationships, your integrity and being the most valuable TEAM player?

Share your comments on Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to “Like” this post! This Sunday we’re back with an all-new episode of The Dani Johnson Show. Set a reminder in your phone to join us Sunday night at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT.


In great faith,


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