The best disappointing loss we ever had

In the small frame, this post is about basketball. In the bigger picture, it’s about learning life. I’ll try not to go into the weeds of basketball getting to the larger point.

Our university’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four this year. We’ve been spoiled by going to the Final Four eight times in the past 20 years. However, our team has brought home the National Championship only once in those eight trips. This means we’ve had seven instances of build-up and high hopes, followed by bitter disappointment.

Our last Final Four was four years ago, when Big Brother was six years old. He was just becoming conscious of the game called basketball, and wasn’t interested in it as television viewing. The words “Final Four” meant nothing to him.

Since then, he began playing organized basketball. This past winter, his 5th grade team had a challenging season, but turned their fortunes around at the end by winning their league tournament. Not only did Big Brother learn how much effort and determination it took to win such a tournament, it stirred his interest in our university’s team.

He began watching the NCAA tournament games with increased interest. For me, this was a long-awaited perk of fatherhood: watching sports with a child who cared about the game.

It’s a double-edged perk.

Even in 5th grade, it takes long hours of practice.

On Saturday, we watched the National Semi-final together. The game went back and forth, until the opposing team pulled ahead. Then our team came back and got within one point, but the momentum switched again and the other team held on to win.

It was another case of high hopes leading to disappointment. I’d been there before, but it was a new experience for Big Brother. The final buzzer left him lying face down on the couch. I rolled him over to find tears in his eyes.

At that moment I felt proud, which seems a little odd, but I was glad he could develop a passion for something beyond his own person. I also felt a tinge of guilt at my role in turning him into a sports fan. Sports leads to disappointment more often than not. Even the good seasons mostly end with a loss. Nobody likes to see their children disappointed.

But we have to see them disappointed. The character moments are born of disappointment. I talked to Big Brother about keeping perspective. There are so many things in his life, more important than basketball, to be happy about. We talked about disappointment, and how you have to move past it, get on with life, and be ready for what comes your way next.

I didn’t cheer him up much that night. He’ll have to see it for himself. Life is back to normal, with more pressing things that need attention (e.g. school assignments). If my words can just hang out in the background until the next disappointment life hands him, perhaps they can help him see it’s probably not the end of the world.

I would have preferred a victory, but as far as disappointing losses go, this one may have been the most useful.


17 comments on “The best disappointing loss we ever had

  1. floatinggold says:

    This reminds me of the times when I would watch soccer with my father when I was BB’s age.
    Great lesson, too.

  2. Gibber says:

    A proud moment and a teaching moment. Almost doesn’t get better.

  3. Just Joan says:

    “But we have to see them disappointed. Character moments are born of disappointment.” Good God, Snoozin, you should be writing parenting books. So many parents I know make it a full-time job to shield their children from disappointment, which is, as we all know, poor preparation for the real world. Big Brother may not “get it” yet, but you’ve planted the seeds, and when the time is right, insight will sprout. 🙂

  4. foxholedad says:

    Yup, dealing with disappointment, failure and losses is a key to growing up. I always say playing sports is among the best learning tools. Kids get immediate feedback. You won or you lost. You made the shot or you didn’t. You fumbled or you didn’t. Unvarnished feedback.

  5. GoofyEd says:

    It is nearly impossible predict “teaching moments”. Your impromptu fatherly advice was far better than any lesson plan…mostly because you shared the moment together!

  6. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Awwww, Life Lessons can be tough. Poor guy.

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