HOPElessly Searching for Sportsmanship
I remember that feeling. The feeling of losing something you wanted so badly. Being angry, frustrated, and feeling so damn defeated, you’re practically empty.
Yea, it stings.
But I also remember feeling in awe… and definitely impressed. We lost and I mean we lost big. We hand our butts handed to us and I personally got worked by the opposing team’s star player. I MEAN WORKED. The game was over, the damage was done and her team was loading up onto the bus to take their win home to celebrate.
I didn’t want to lose my opportunity to say one last thing to her. Something I just needed to say after losing a game like this.
So I ran… sprinted… across the field. I got to her just on the other side of the parking lot, out of breath (pretty much par for that whole day) and stuck out my hand. I told her she was the best player I had ever competed against and it was an honor losing to her that day. She humbly thanked me and that was that.
I have no illusions, that my “illustrious” 14 year soccer career compares at all to playing professionally. I was damn good, but I was never an Olympian in the making.
But what I was at one point was a little girl growing up, watching the likes of Mia Hamm dominate it, on and off the field. What I am now, is a mother, watching my daughter grow up more impressionable than I ever imagined a child could be.
To see how every new day and every new experience shapes our kids, a parent can’t help but to long for role models that will make positive impressions on their children, at times that we can’t.
Events like the Olympics, act as a shining beacon for our younger generations. A concentrated few weeks, every 2 or 4 years, where the world’s GREATEST athletes take the field, pool, track and our hearts to compete for Gold. Whether they agree with it or not, athletes signed up to be in the spotlight, and now the world is watching. Little boys dreaming of being the next Michael Phelps and little girls practicing their tumbles to be the next Simone Biles.
Or maybe, the next Hope Solo.
Young female athletes, donning their #1 jerseys and blissfully listening to every word she says. Words like “coward.” What could be a shining example of humility and strength turns into a sad display of bitter sportsmanship. An opportunity wasted to teach the millions of children AROUND THE WORLD, that- yes, it was a tough loss, and emotions run high, but at the end of the day, your integrity, sportsmanship and grace are just as important as your ability to save a goal.
And so, I would ask Hope Solo this: do you not owe it to your parents and your coaches, your former and current teammates, the people that helped get you where you are today, to have a character stronger than your anger and disappointment?
If you can find no one worth exuding leadership and honor for, then do it for yourself. Do it for the little girl sitting, cross-legged and eager, with her soccer ball cradled in her lap, fancying the day you are exactly where you are today. Make that little girl proud, the rest will fall into place.
Don’t Forget To Smile, Krysta