My tennis team lost during their elite eight round of the state playoffs on Friday. Honestly, it was a little painful. I was in the same position when I was in school and playing on the tennis team. My senior year my team made it to the final four where we were completely obliterated by the Atlanta team we faced. It tends to work that way every year. The playoffs are set up where the southern teams don't meet up with the northern teams until the final four where the rich kids from the mostly private Atlanta schools that almost always represent the north at that level of the playoffs completely humiliate the southern team. The only problem is that we didn't make it that far this year. We were playing our last match against a southern team when both our boys and girls teams lost and ended their season. I just don't remember it being that painful to lose when I was a kid. I usually didn't take losing that hard. I've never been an overly competitive person. I'm cool with being wrong (as long as you have proof) and losing only puts me down for a few minutes, but after watching kids I've worked with, cheered on, and practiced with all season, I almost wanted to cry at seeing them lose. I honestly think it was harder for me to see them not make the final four than it was for me to actually lose in the early playoffs when I was a junior.
I understand that sports are often taken too seriously. There's no reason that a professional or college sporting match should ruin your day or make your year, unless you're a member of the team. But this is a little different. For almost all of these kids, this is as far as their athletic careers will go. For the seniors, this was their last chance to make the final four. For the underclassmen, they always have next year, but not for their buddies on the next court.
Besides, no one is taking this as a life or death issue. Of course the kids weren't happy about it. There were a lot of red eyes, straining to keep from crying, and mostly on the guys' side, which was a little funny, but they went bowling as a team after the match. It probably made their weekend a little less exciting, but they'll largely be over it Monday. There may be a little pang of disappointment on Monday afternoon when they realize they need to make their way home instead of to the tennis courts, but that will be the end of it. Honestly, I'll probably have that same feeling when I realize I don't have to change clothes for practice and need to head over to pick up K. Besides, you can't worry about overpopulation, poverty, global warming, and the pros and cons of various alternative fuels all of the time. Sometimes it's good to take what you're doing seriously even when it doesn't matter in the long run.