There is a gift in losing that can never be received any other way—it’s called compassion.
My youngest son is fun to watch in most sports. How fast he picks up on athletic skills has blown my mind on more than occasion, but that doesn’t mean he always wins. Far from it—not even fifty percent if I’m being honest. And after watching him this weekend, I can say that all those losses have been for the best.
In a four-man bracket at a wrestling tournament my son finished his last match—an easy pin on someone who clearly was new to the sport. Rather than just shake hands and go his way, he took the teary boy back to his coach with his arm around his shoulders.
I shook my head at the animated way my son lifted his hands up, like people did years ago when saying “raise the roof.” Once a smile cracked on the boy’s face, our son rejoined us on the other side of the mat.
“What was that about?” I said taking his headgear.
“I felt bad about making him cry, so I told him about my very first match, and how I pinned myself by trying to bench press the kid off of me.”
It was an epic loss we still laugh about today.
I couldn’t have been prouder. He didn’t the win the bracket, having experience a loss of his own earlier in the day, but that wasn’t his focus. Instead, he reached out to someone who he could see was in far more need of comfort. All those losses through the years had given him an intimate understanding of what defeat feels like, and he wanted to ease that pain. To me, that makes him one cool kid. He added to my understanding of what it really means to compete in sports.