“Hey Jay,” said Coach Campbell, “I watched your ping pong game with Bobby this morning and I could tell from far away that you lost. I watched you throw the ping pong paddle down in anger and storm off from the game room yelling and kicking. It was like you “melted down.”
Did Bobby say something that made you angry, or where you just upset that you lost the game?”
“Just that I lost the game,” answered Jay.
Coach Campbell nodded and said, “Look Jay….no one LIKES to lose…but, part of playing the game is knowing that you might lose. I mean it is a game and someone wins and someone loses, but you can’t let losing make you put on a show like this morning. You have to be a good sportsman.”
Jay looked puzzled and asked, “What’s a sportsman?”
“Ha, well…let’s see,” said Coach, “A sportsman is someone who even in defeat acts with grace.”
Hmm, said Jay, “Is defeat the same as losing?”
“Yes,” answered Coach.
“And, what’s grace,” asked Jay.
Coach thought for a moment and then said, “Being someone who had fun playing the game and wants to play again. The game, that’s the fun part. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but…you keep playing and that keeps you getting better…being better.”
Jay’s face brightened and he said, “Oh, I see.”
“Good,” said Coach. “Look, next month there is a big ping-pong tournament and I think you can do well and maybe even get to the finals. If you work hard and keep learning from your mistakes, it can happen. But, I need to know you will not ‘lose it’ like this morning if you lose…will you be a good sportsman?”
Jay asked, “You really think I can do well?”
“Yes,” said Coach, “But you have to give me your word you will be a good sportsman. No more melt downs.”
“YES,” said Jay, “I can do it. I can be a good sportsman. I know I can!”