Winter tournaments have ended and, weather permitting, spring sports are underway in Michigan junior high/middle schools and high schools.
We usually think of these programs as opportunities for kids to shine; and that they do provide. But more important are the opportunities these programs provide for kids to stub their toes.
In fact, one of the principal purposes of a competitive interscholastic athletic program is to provide a place for students to make mistakes in a safe and supportive environment.
People most often learn more from their mistakes than their successes. Failure leads to more useful reflection than success. Getting knocked down (either physically or metaphorically), but getting up, gathering yourself and trying again with awareness of what did not work the first time, is a learning process as profound as it is efficient.
The principal purpose of school sports is to help young people learn life lessons. The more ways schools can facilitate failure and lift up the abundant lessons imbedded in those moments, the better they fulfill the mission of student-centered, school-sponsored competitive athletics.