When did things change?

I just came home from the High School.  I volunteer to work the concession stand during the JV Football games so the parents of JV players can watch their sons play.  There were a couple other Dads working with me and during the slow periods of the game, we had a chance to watch the game.  The JV player played their collective hearts out, but still came up short when the last tick of the clock passed.
The discussion that I had with the other Dads though was priceless.  The other night at our Troop meeting I talked during my Scoutmaster Minute about having heart… About never giving up and never letting failure get the best of you.
Today, those Dads and I asked each other when things changed.  Not that “when I was a kid” it was harder… but when I was kids giving up was not an option.  And it should never be an option now.  Our Varsity Football team has had a rough couple years, and I can see why there is frustration and bitter feelings, but this year they are 2-2 and have a promising schedule.  So why give up?  They got down in the last game and many of the players just gave up.  Lost cause?  Never.  Going to lose anyway?  Then go down with a fight!
You see failure is something that is easy.  It becomes an attitude and once you fail and do nothing about it.. it is so much easier to allow it again.  The next thing you know it is a habit.  With teenagers this needs to be nipped before it gets out of hand.
Life is hard and the sooner we expect our kids to be winners the better.  Failure is not an option in life.  Winning is everything.
OK…. SEND HATE MAIL NOW.
Or let me explain.
Winning comes in many forms.  The Score is not always the measure of a win.  Follow me here.  The JV team lost the game today 38-34.  They were down with 9 minutes left in the game.  They could have given up.  But they stayed in the game and played until the whistle blew signaling the end of the game.  They had the ball with 14 seconds left and were driving down the field.  One more play and they had a chance to win the game.  They fell short on the score board, but they did not get beat.  They walked into the locker room knowing that they played the game well and in the end… had a chance to win.  This chance will become the building block that will lead them to victories in the future.  The point here is that those players will not go away without learning from a missed tackle, a dropped ball, or a bad throw.  Yes ladies and gentlemen… when you make mistakes you live with the results.  A missed tackle leads to a score for the other team or a much-needed first down that leads to your loss.
That is life.  Not everyone gets a participation ribbon, and not everyone wins every game, but failing to try will lead to failure.
So when did things change?  When did it become ok to quit?  When did it become ok not to give 100%?  When did “Doing your best” not really mean your best?  Think about that… what does BEST mean?  It dies not mean I gave it a shot.. it does not mean I tried, but it got to hard so I quit.  It means BEST.
Here is how Best is defined:
adj. Superlative of good.
1. Surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality; most excellent: the best performer.
2. Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful; most desirable: the best solution; the best time for planting.
3. Greatest; most: He spoke for the best part of an hour.
4. Most highly skilled: the best doctor in town.
adv. Superlative of well2.
1. In a most excellent way; most creditably or advantageously.
2. To the greatest degree or extent; most: “He was certainly the best hated man in the ship” (W. Somerset Maugham).
n.
1. One that surpasses all others.
2. The best part, moment, or value: The best is still to come. Let’s get the best out of life.
3. The optimum condition or quality: look your best. She was at her best in the freestyle competition.
4. One’s nicest or most formal clothing.
5. The supreme effort one can make: doing our best.
6. One’s warmest wishes or regards: Give them my best

I think that it would serve our young people to look at that definition and see if they, when they say they did their best are they at least within the definition?
So I wonder when things changed.  No one would ever dare give up when I played ball in school.  Our team mates were our friends, they were the guys that we knew we could count on, we knew they would never give up.  I don’t see that in all the kids today.  They are more concerned about themselves and not their team mates.  Life lessons missed.  In life they will need to be dependable, they will need to be counted on.  Giving up now will set them up for quitting later.
Maybe it’s just me and those two other Dads in the snack shack today.. but hope was restored watching that JV team.
This is all just as relevant in Scouting.  Quitting on a patrol, giving up when the challenge is to hard, not finishing when you are being counted on.  All of these tests of character beg the question, when did things change?

“I’ll never give up; cause if I do; I give up on the ones beside me; I’ll never give up; cause if I do; I give up on the ones who believe in me; if the person next to me is down; I will pick him up; and he the same; I’ll never give up; I’ll believe in the cause; I’ll fight to the end; and WE WILL WIN!… THIS IS THE RAIDER PROMISE” - 

This is the Raider Promise, they say this before and after ever game, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone made a promise to never give up, to help other people at all times, to live a set of values, to be a good member of a team or patrol.  Wouldn’t it be nice?
And you wonder why I think sports are valuable…

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: blog, Character, Competition, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, teamwork, Values | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “When did things change?

  1. Boyd

    I really like your definition of Win and I agree that winning is everything as defined above. Another way to say this is, “The only way to lose is to quit trying. So to win, don’t give up!”

    I chuckle when I hear the old adage “when did things change” because it is symptomatic of how we as humans are wired. There are monumental examples of quitting and giving up throughout every second of the existence of human kind. It is a constant struggle that is one of the defining features of free will. There hasn’t been a single generation that was somehow different or more capable in this area. It is why scouting has not changed in its purpose for so many years…if you think about it, what would scouting be like if no one ever quit. My role as a scoutmaster would be significantly reduced if every boy would give 100% all the time.

    We don’t like to remember when we gave up, quit or truly failed because of our own choice. That is kind of painful. The context may be different for this generation but judging from the advances, the education being consumed by kids including the ones we consider dead beats and the astounding new ideas that just keep being introduced daily; I would say that nothing has changed… our generation helped create this generation in large part and they are doing amazing things even though the expectation is so much higher for them then it was for us.

    I am in awe of the kids today. I hope to be like them when I grow up. ;)

  2. Justin

    I read this post after i read a post from Dan Miller

    “Recently I watched the 2007 movie Lions for Lambs. In this movie a brilliant but apathetic student asks his professor (Robert Redford), “Is there any difference in trying but failing, and simply failing to try – if you end up in the same place anyway?” He was attempting to justify taking the safe route; never really taking a stand or trying anything big.”

    The ideas are similar.

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