Being the proud parents of a competitor is easy, fun and just quite chixillating. On the other hand our daughter Rosie is an “in-it-to-win-it” type of gal. She sees absolutely no reason in taking part in an event unless you are totally prepared, dressed correctly and with the mindset that you are going to win.

She will enter into various events and we will have to drive the route – not once – twice to make sure that she knows where she has to go – and forbid that we have assumed what the route is and we get it wrong.

She will make sure that her team (she loves the “team” part of events) has a name.

She needs to know before the time exactly what the team colours are, what equipment is needed and most of all what the rules are – and I mean EXACTLY what the rules are. She will pour over the rules to make sure that her team complies to the rules.

The day before an event, anything needed for an event will be ready right down to doing a dry run.
We support her in this and are the proud parents of an “in-it-to-win-it” competitor.
But, there is one factor that any competitor or event organiser has no control over let us say the SUPER X factor – that is – unprecedented parental interference.
As a parent I honestly think (I am guilty here too) that we must leave a races rules and unexpected happenings to the race organisers. We must allow our children to be part of an event and stand by the rules of the event.
Our job as parents is to cheer on the sidelines (and ONLY to cheer – no booing, criticising or venting frustrations), sometimes we have to patch a broken heart, mop up tears and put a plaster on a wound – but – in the most part we must be there to support, and support only – we are the spectators and not the competitors.
We must not challenge the organisers, change or bend the rules to suit our own expectations of our children’s abilities.
In a recent event I saw (and in some cases was guilty of) the following:
I saw one Dad whose child’s boat sank a few seconds before the start say “Don’t worry sweetheart” he then emptied her canoe, told her to go back to the start and “just go for it” GREAT DAD!!!! Another one who said just tag onto another team. Another one who blamed the organisers. There were various others (me too) who just got in the way. I saw one 9 year old paddler trying to hacking it out against two 11 year old boys in a doubles canoe – and nearly pipping them. One team snuck an overage kid into a team. Another bunch of moms (yes it is mostly moms interfering)were interrupting the timekeepers with constant “what place did my child come” leaving the timekeepers with the impossible job of keeping parents happy and trying to keep accurate times for the ones actually taking part in the event.
Apart from GREAT DAD the rest were doing a horrible disservice to our kids. We are showing them that they don’t need to stand on their own feet, and if things in life don’t go exactly to plan – if you bend the rules just a bit – then you can win whatever the cost. We are interfering with the people who are there to ensure that our children are given their fair spot in a competition.
Over and above this the kids competing see what is happening and without a doubt the parents watching see.
But, what about “Its all just for fun”, well, um, its a competition, a race and the nature of these events are that fairness should prevail. We should respect the teams that are following the rules and want to win fairly and squarely.
Our children will grow under the guidance and fairness of the race organisers. We can find out what place our kids got at the prize giving. If we change the rules so that some kids can carry on for fun, we inform the organisers so that they can compete but not necessary be part of the prizes. We will be better parents in the long run. Our children will grow up better adults.
As parents of both the “just for fun” variety as well as “the in-it-to-win-it” type we see both sides of a coin but, we have to realise that as parents we have our role and sometimes, just sometimes we can stand back and let our kids loose under others rules – be the proud spectator of your kids growth and be there when you are needed.
I am of the absolute opinion that the best competitor is the good loser, and the good losers are the biggest winners of all.

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