They Keep Score For A Reason!

I’ve learned a lot through basketball over the years, starting with the very first basketball game I ever played in when I was seven years old. The game was played at Siglar Park in Westminster, California early one Saturday morning. Simply put, my team was thrashed 44-6. Even before I left the park that day I realized two very important things: From that day on, I knew without a doubt that there was a huge difference between average and excellent and maybe even more importantly, that winning is a lot more fun than losing! Thankfully, I’ve never forgotten either one!!
Some people don’t want to admit that there is a difference between average and excellent, between losers and winners, between failure and success whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, or in the workplace. Whether we like it or not, there are differences, but unfortunately many do not learn this until well into adulthood.
We live in a time where parents and other well meaning adults want to protect the fragile self esteem of their children at all costs. One of the ways they try do this is by refusing to “keep score” whenever their kids are involved. After all, if there is no score then there are no winners. If there are no winners then there can’t be any losers. Everyone is the same in the land of mediocrity!
During the last three years, our daughter Taylor has played on six different grade school soccer teams (one in the Fall and one in the Spring) where possibly the only rule that is ever enforced is the one that prohibits keeping score. During one game when nine year old Taylor and one of her teammates kept announcing the score after each goal, the opposing coach pulled his team off the field and refused to play the rest of the game. Unbelievable!! That guy never would have survived at Siglar Park!! What was he teaching the members of his team? That if you ever get behind you should quit? That not playing is more fun than playing and keeping score? Why not view the situation as the perfect opportunity to teach his team the value of persistence or bouncing back from adversity? Why not use it as a springboard for his players to improve their skills, fitness level, or teamwork? Why not just let the kids come to the realization that keeping score is a fact of life?

Keeping score is a big part of life and the sooner we all realize that the better. Teachers keep score and call it grades. Banks keep score and call it credit report. Businesses keep score and call it profit. Armies keep score and call it death toll. Politicians keep score and call it votes. Even American Idol keeps score.

In all walks of life, keeping score should motivate us to do our very best and to get better results. Keeping score lets us gauge our progress and then make any necessary adjustments. Without keeping score it’s easy to assume that everything must be going well, that we are doing everything right, and that all performances are the same. Knowing the score helps us get better.

I hated losing that very first game when I was seven years old, so much that I’ve remembered it all these years, and I’ve hated losing ever since. But once I knew they were keeping score I had a couple choices to make – I could either improve my skills, become a better teammate, compete harder and win or I could continue to lose. I’ve tried to apply that lesson to nearly everything I’ve done since then. The very first thing I ever learned through basketball was that they keep score for a reason!

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