“I wanna know what you guys think… was this season maybe a little too competitive?” It is the evening of our Lido Fleet’s annual awards ceremony and chili feed, when the 1st Place winner proposes this question to the members. He follows up by giving the example of how some racers are not just trying to sail fast, but instead using the rules to their advantage. He shared concern that new fleet members may be turned off by the more advanced racing and aggressive competition, and made note that he would rather see his friends out on Wednesday nights. Hmm… although notably stuffed from dinner and drinks, his question sure stirred up a bit of conversation around what is the right amount of competition, and it’s been on my mind ever since.
It’s true that many of us have grown up drinking the competitive coolaid. Some of us even go as far as to sport pads and a pacifier at the same time… or to climb right in to the bucket!
It’s also true, as one racer is quick to point out, most sports wouldn’t be much fun without the rules, and the rules are there so that no one gets hurt. His concern is that if the more experienced sailors take the competition back a notch, that the newbies will not learn what they need to. He fears they will end up crashing in to other boats at a regatta where the rules are enforced, and a weakness in this area will be taken advantage of for sure. Not everyone knows how to climb a mast.
I decide not to engage in the lively discussion on this night, but instead listen intently as the battle unfolds. Later I find myself continuing to ponder the right answer.
I think back to the moments of intense competition that led to one of the greatest days ever for our family, when the High School Softball team my husband coached and loved won State, for the first time in over a decade. I know it couldn’t have happened without the rules, and without using those rules to their advantage. Our kids were beyond excited this team was #1, as shown in the photo below.
Even the daughter and granddaughter of my husband’s close friend and mentor, who had coached the team that won last time back in 1991, were there to witness the big day.
And I love this picture of our daughter with Rick and Tara, the incredible parents of Emma, the amazing winning pitcher!
And also this photo of our son so proud of his Dad on this day.
Game Day at the Lake
As fun as winning is, I know that losing and learning can be tough. I pulled these photos out of some of our big tug-o-wars.
Finally one of the racers chimed in and said, “how about instead of going easy on the newer racers, we train them to become better sailors?” That was the game-changer. Everyone stopped bickering over the rules, and started getting excited about training up new racers. The ideas started flowing… one guy knew of a great short video we could all watch together to bring people up to speed, another recommended we let the crew take smaller boats out themselves and have a chance to learn how to skipper, and someone else thought of the idea to review the protests from this season and provide some chalk talks that specifically target the areas where people need the most help.
Martial Arts Party
The new wisdom of the group reminded me of a great martial arts birthday party experience we once had for our son. It was a sport we weren’t familiar with, but at the time he was very much in to Lego Ninjago and wanted to try karate. Let me just say that the family-owned RMA Martial Arts Center on Willamette does a fantastic birthday! It looks like they have “Ninja Nights for Kids” now too. What struck me the most, was how much they taught the kids about listening to the rules and showing respect before they started breaking boards.
It led to one of the sweetest moments, which I can still remember. I love watching kids root for eachother – priceless.
Then there were swords…
Competition wasn’t on my list to write about, but life seems to be funny that way. She brings you what you need to hear instead. I believe there is a healthy medium in most sports between being first to the mark and also making people feel welcome. Maybe the Lido Fleet is right – the way to get there is not to sacrifice the rules, but to make the time to bring everyone up to a higher level. As the sign says, let’s take care of our chums, and teach more people how to be King of the Mountain.
It’s nice to see happy game day faces enjoying the competition, no matter who crosses the finish line first.
I’m sorry to say that we have to wave goodbye to George until next summer. We sure were blessed with a full lake and a great sailing season.
Looking forward to trimming the sails, and the sailors, in 2018!