If a child is playing sport, the emphasis should be on having fun. However, I believe learning that sometimes you lose is just as important.

There is a school of thought that if children are playing for fun, they should not keep score, which seems a bit backwards to me. Participation is great, especially in a country like New Zealand which struggles with obesity, but let's also give them a goal to chase.

Sport has winners and losers, that is a crucial part of it's make-up. I believe the greatest joy you can get from sport is when you dig deep and produce a win, when you and your teammates work together for the desired result. If there is no desired result, what is the point?

Admittedly, I am a competitive person, but I don't think you're ever too young to start learning that putting effort into something can result in reward. I'm not saying winning should be the be-all and end-all of the experience for children, but it should at least be an option.


As the old cliche goes; without the rain, we would never appreciate the warmth of the sun. Sport is like life - it is the failures and losses, that make success and victory so sweet.

Michael Jordan was famously quoted as saying; "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed".

Without learning how it feels to win, and just as importantly how it feels to lose, we will breed a generation who expect life to be easy.

Life is not easy and I believe the sooner children learn that, the better off they are in the long run.

But, there does need to be a balance. It does need to be fun or they won't be interested. There are always issues with over-enthusiastic parents, to put it politely, who are so hell-bent on seeing their children win that they chastise them when they make mistakes. We do not want that.

I'm not a parent myself, but I've watched plenty of sport. I believe the key is to teach children that they should give their all in an effort to be victorious, but just as crucially, they should be graceful in defeat. Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios is an example of someone who appears to have gone too far the other way, constantly in the news for his tantrums on court and terrible attitude.

Athletes should be upset when they lose, it was not the desired outcome, but congratulate the winner and start thinking about what you will do differently next time to win.

That's a valuable life lesson. If you apply for a job and don't get it, it is being upset about that outcome that should make you think about what you could do better next time. We learn from our losses and seek improvement in the hunt for a win.