Embrace Your Inner Loser!

People who know me know that I have a love/hate relationship with Saturday Night Live. I’ve been watching it since the first season, when Chevy Chase first fell down and announced, “Live from New York…!”

But as we all know, sometimes it’s just not funny. You watch the whole show, and then it’s over, and that really funny sketch that makes it all worthwhile just never happened. Other times it’s even worse, because it becomes all about taking cheap shots at whomever they assume their audience doesn’t like. They become the Rush Limbaughs of the left, just pandering to the audience to get the easy applause.

And don’t even get me started about the music. It used to be that SNL’s musical guests were cutting edge, showcasing a lot of great music. Now they’re just whatever mediocre acts the record companies are trying to shove down our throats that week. In fact, sometimes, the real quality musicians are the guest hosts, and they never sing or play a note. Frustrating.

But once in a while, SNL really does its job. Once in a while they give you a sketch that’s not only funny, but provides some needed social commentary. Last week, there was a skit like that. It was a talk show, on which the guests were people who had no skills or talents, but because they had a blog or a twitter account, they believed they were famous. It was funny because it played on the attitude of entitlement that is evident in a lot of youth and young adults. At the end of the skit, they acted like they were going into a commercial, and Vanessa Bayer said something like, “When we come back, we’ll be giving the award for best guest… to all the guests.”

It was at that moment that I remembered something that had happened between the time I played sports as a kid and when my sons played on the kiddie teams. They stopped keeping score. When my kids were little, playing soccer or t-ball, I was told that they don’t keep score any more because they don’t want the losing team to feel bad. I instinctively knew this was wrong, but at the time I could not articulate why, and in any case these people could not be swayed. They said they just want everyone to have fun, which ironically implies that you can’t have fun if you lose. The problem with this is that the idea that it’s not whether you win or lose (it’s how you play the game) has no meaning if you don’t know whether you won or lost.

You see where I’m going with this? Parents who don’t keep score have created a generation of young adults who think they deserve to be famous because they can put their “profile” on the internet. They think the world owes them something without working for it. And now they don’t believe they can have fun (i.e., be happy) unless they receive the same accolades as the top performers. Parents – tell your kids when they lose. That will do two things for them: It makes them try harder; and it teaches them to deal with loss gracefully. It will actually allow them to learn to have fun, even when they lose. If they never know what it feels like to lose, then when they grow up and aren’t given a medal for mediocrity… well I guess they can become a musical guest on SNL.

Learning to lose teaches kids that there’s no shame in it. It won’t kill you, but it will teach you the difference between not succeeding and succeeding, so you know how much harder you have to work. And when you do win, you will have a certain humility because you will know that you don’t win all the time. So if you want your kids to grow up to be adults who win with humility and lose with dignity, keep score.


Jim Papandrea, author of Spiritual Blueprint: How We Live, Work, Love, Play and Pray




About Jim Papandrea

Jim Papandrea is an author, educator, and singer/songwriter. Visit his website at: www.JimPapandrea.com
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