Too good to compete

A girl’s high school basketball team, Rogers Area Youth Basketball Association (RAYBA), in Minnesota was recently kicked out of their league for being “too good.”

According to the article, three teams in the league threatened to forfeit their games against RAYBA or quit the league if RAYBA wasn’t kicked out. So the league acquiesced and removed RAYBA from the league.

It’s amazing to me that things like this happen because every time news like this appears, the general reaction of all of the people around me is the same: disbelief. So if so many people can’t believe anything like this would happen, how does it keep happening?

When I think of what’s wrong with it, I go no further than my daughter’s basketball team and coach. When her team gets destroyed by another – which thankfully doesn’t happen that often, though they were on the wrong side of a 53-13 defeat a few weeks ago – her coach uses it as a lesson in perspective.

He likes the girls to know just how good some 6th grade teams can be, and then he spends a lot of time making sure they understand how that team got there. He references their work ethic, their level of seriousness, their sound fundamentals, the strategies they used to win and, if the team handled the victory with poise and class, he teaches them about composure.

He also uses it as a lesson in heart. That particular game got out of hand quickly, as it was 19-3 within minutes. At that point in the game, he let the girls know that they dug themselves this hole and now had to show strength and character as they start digging out of it.

He made them take their share of the responsibility for their situation, made sure they understood how they got there, and then helped point them in the direction of getting out of it.

This is a critical life lesson. Sometimes when we compete, or present, or turn in work, we get crushed. We get throttled. It doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. But the lesson isn’t to shy away from trying or to crawl into a hole somewhere.

My daughter’s coach taught them how to keep it in perspective and learn from it. He taught them how to start fixing it and how to come back stronger the next time. He taught them to never give up and to keep working hard. And because they suffered the defeat, they now had an accurate perception of what very good looks like and that it’s not impossible.

If you run away from someone you think is too good, they’ve already won before the game is even played. The kids on those teams who threatened to quit will never learn some of the lessons I discussed above, and their ability to deal with some of the hard situations they will face in life will suffer if their parents continue to handle adversity like this.

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