If I had a euro for the number of times this phrase was mentioned to me as I grew up, I would be a very rich woman by now!
As a child, it took me a while to figure out what this actually meant – it’s not the winning? But, I thought it was. I thought that was why we were racing down lanes in potato sacks and balancing hard-boiled eggs on spoons, to see who could be the first to cross the finish line?
I think it was when I wasn’t the first to cross the finish line (or the second or the third), that I finally understood what this meant. Ahh, it was just about having fun, the crossing the line first bit didn’t really matter at all (I was still a little sceptical though).
Today, I heard myself saying this phrase to my son as he headed off for his school sports day. “Now remember,” I lectured in the car on the way to school, “It’s not about the winning, it’s about taking part, having fun and encouraging others.” He looked at me as quizzically as I had looked at my mum when she said the same to me. But I think he got it because he had a tremendous time and came back full of stories about three-legged races and water relays and all manner of fun. No tears, no frustration about not having won anything and no sulking because the faster, stronger kid had gone home with the shiny, silver trophy (yes, I’m still bitter!)
Unlike the sports days of my youth, it’s great to see that schools have got a lot smarter at encouraging teamwork and removing the element of competition from days like today. Everyone went home happy.
Whoever invented the phrase, “It’s not the winning…” was a very smart person indeed!