Finding the balance of competition

Published 4:59 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

QUESTION: How do we balance our children’s motivation to win with a willingness to participate enthusiastically when others will receive the awards?

ANSWER: You might put competition in perspective by asking your children to place themselves in the following scenario:

While walking by a park, Shay, who was seriously learning-disabled, asked his father if he thought the boys playing baseball might let him play. The father decided to actually ask one of the boys on the field. The boy asked made his own decision, and said, because his team was already losing badly, that Shay could be on his team and they’d try to let him bat in the ninth inning.

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At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. No balls came his way, but he was obviously ecstatic.

Unpredictably, in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and bases loaded, it was Shay’s turn to bat. Surprisingly, one of the boys handed Shay the bat. Because of Shay’s disabilities, it was unlikely that he would even connect with the ball.

The pitcher chose to move a few steps closer to lob the ball over the plate. Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher chose, again, to move a few steps even closer before pitching. Shay managed to hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher, who could have easily thrown Shay out at first base. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball in a high arc to right field. Everyone started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!” Wide-eyed, Shay ran. Everyone yelled, “Run to second!” The right fielder could have easily thrown Shay out at second, but he chose to throw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third!” As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, “Shay! Run home!” Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a grand slam and winning the game for his team.

There are two questions for every reader of this story: Who do you identify with in the story and who wins?

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out