What Winning Really Looks Like

A pair of 12 year old boys schooled me in sportsmanship today, and one of them happened to be mine.  I honestly can’t remember being so inspired by a kid I knew, doing the right thing…and the fact that it was my kid has humbled me beyond belief.

Both of my boys competed in a martial arts tournament today, and found themselves in the advanced division for the first time.  This was also the first competition for the oldest since breaking his arm at his testing in January.  He did extremely well, earning a spot in the finals before any of us could even breathe.  In fact, it ended up being the closest match I’ve ever seen him in.  It was also one of the cleanest matches I’ve ever seen – both boys bumping hand pads, patting each others shoulders, and compliment each other for every point. One would think they were best friends, rather than having never met before.

The last point of the match was amazing…they were tied at 4, the next point decide the winner.  Both boys struck with a head shot.  At. The. Exact. Same. Moment. The closest tie I’ve ever seen.  Only…there was a problem.  The other kid had made contact with B in the face – a move the whole group was warned about before they got started.  And were warned that any facial contact would result in a point for the other team.  Which means, regardless of how it was scored, B would win.  But wait…did the judges see it?  A few of us thought B was in first anyways, but it was truly too close to call.  But B wasnt moving, giving any indication of the infraction. I knew it had to hurt, since it was right below is eye; all he had to do was move his hand to his face, and the trophy was his.  Nothing…just him standing still, waiting for the judges’ call…1 judge for B, and 2 for the other kid.  My kid got second place.  

Don’t get me wrong, the boy B was sparring was one test away from his black belt, and B is just about half way there.  I was incredibly proud of how he fought.  And the judges did a fantastic job…it really could have gone either way.  But B didn’t give any indication of the facial contact until after the other kid was declared a winner.

Realizing what had happened, the other kid made his way straight to B, and I could see him apologizing profusely.  B, waved him off, then graciously accepted his tag for his second place trophy. 

Later, while waiting for his little brother to take his turn in ring, I took a moment to tell B again how proud I was of his performance.  That’s when he told me, “I didn’t want anyone to know he had hit me in the face, because I knew that would mean he would lose.  I didn’t want to win like that – he beat me.” My kid, in a match too close to call, fighting someone 3 months from his black belt, walked away from a win because he didn’t think he earned it.

In an era of pro athletes fighting PED suspensions based on the schedule of the Fed Ex guy, others fighting for every advantage they can get, legitimate or not, my TWELVE YEAR OLD CHILD walked away from what would have been a legitimate win because he didn’t think he earned it,.  He vastly preferred second place that he felt he earned to a first place win on a technicality.  Never mind the fact that both shots were basically a tie, and he could have been declared the winner on that alone.  My child walked away, because he thought it was the right thing to do.

I don’t care that his trophy was a tad shorter, or read second instead of first.  And I really think he was prouder of that 2nd place trophy than he would have been had he been awarded first.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what a winner really looks like.  Yet again, I am inspired and humbled by the little human in my house, and those that have helped me to create the amazing creature he continues to grow in to.  I’m not sure what I did to be blessed with him, but I’m awfully glad he’s mine.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristen
    Aug 24, 2013 @ 22:21:02

    Ragan – this is another wonderful post. Truly, I can feel the pride zooming out of this page, and I feel it too. It had me humbled too. Parenting…you are clearly doing it right.


  2. Erin Keene
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 09:21:29

    And we know our mother continues to shine through us and our children. Your post is such a wonderful story of a young boy becoming a man and realizing winning isnt everything. Our integrity and respect for other humans comes first. Good job B for your Integrity. Many, many adults never arrive there. I am so proud of you for you accomplishments as a young man so far. I definitely wish I was not so far away to congratulate you properly. AIYEE NINJA NEPHEW!!!


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