The Wisdom of a 6 Year Old
Anyone hang around a young child who is in the “why?” Stage lately? You know, that wonderful, inquisitive, stage of life where a child asks “why?” to every possible thing that comes out of your mouth until you defeatedly drop the age-old adult surrender line “because I said so”?
I’m not sure how existential the motivations are of the average 6-year-old who is challenging everyone with the ultra-effective “why” bombs, but when it comes to sports and competition, I think we might want to take a lesson from these little crusaders of reasoning. How often would thinking about the “why” calm us down a bit and reorient our thoughts and feelings about the role that sports plays in our lives and what is truly important in regards to them.
The funny thing is, we often do ask “why”, we just don’t follow up with more “why’s” like the relentless child. Asking the follow up “why’s” are where the real stuff gets exposed;
“Why do play?”
“I like to win”
“Because I’m a competitive person?”
“Hmm…I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just how I feel I guess.”
Now we are getting somewhere! Perhaps it’s because you love your teammates and it’s your shared goal to win – cool! Maybe it’s because you love to represent the community that sponsors your team and you want to provide the members of that community with entertainment – neat! Perhaps you know that your play can inspire people and success in the win column gives you a bigger platform to share – awesome! Or maybe it’s because you’ve learned to determine your value by comparing yourself to others based on a scoreboard – yikes! Or maybe you’ve built your identity and self-worth based on athletic success and your desire to win is built on a foundation of insecurity – cringe! Or maybe you’ve learned from society that only winning is rewarded and acceptance is based on your ability to win – sheesh!
Sports are amazing and being competitive can be a wonderful trait, but it’s all based on the “why”. Entirely too often, we are seeing the symptoms of placing sports in an unhealthy position in our lives. Maybe if we step back and rely on the wisdom of a six-year-old and ask a few more “why’s”, we can figure out some balance in the madness and return sport and competition to a healthy place as small part of what makes us who we truly are.