Posted by: everynation | May 18, 2007

My daughters have never won a basketball game!

by Keith Tower

keithtower.gifDespite playing for the last 3 years, my daughters have never won a basketball game. Despite the fact that their coach is a former NBA player, they have never won a basketball game! Despite the fact that Gracie, my 9-year old is 5 foot 3, despite the fact that my 7-year old, Chloe is 4 foot 10…my daughters have never won a basketball game! Despite the fact that they dominate in the low post and are the best ball handlers in the league, my daughters have never won a basketball game! But…

…they have never LOST either. America is hung up on this strange thing called “self esteem”. And in order to “protect” children against the ills of ever facing defeat and feeling “less than”, they never keep scores of their games! The thought is that children won’t get discouraged by having to lose. So they can’t lose, because no one ever wins! I think this stinks. In the interest of them never being discouraged by losing, they never get to experience the encouragment of winning! They never get to experience the value of their practice time leading to measurable improvement. They never get to experience the thrill of coming from behind to pull out a victory. The never get to jump around with their friends after a satisfying win! And…

…in the interest of “shielding” them from the dangers of losing, they never get to experience the character building lessons that can only come from defeat. How will they learn to persevere? How will they learn to face challenges and adversity? How will they learn that failing to prepare properly has adverse consequences? And how will they learn the grace to say that, although someone was better than them on a particualr day, they are still valuable and acceptable to their parents, friends, and God?

I think “self esteem” risks making children into weenies who don’t know how to take risks and go for the gold! How can we learn to excel as adults when we never taste victory or defeat as children?

Guess what…despite the fact there is no official score kept, the kids still know who won and lost. They also recognize that the parents don’t think enough of them that they can handle the tough truth. This actually does more to hurt their self esteem than losing by a few baskets. Just my thoughts today…what do you think?

Keith Tower is a former NBA basketball player, the author of The View from Seven Feet, and the senior pastor of HighPoint Church in Orlando, Florida.


  1. as a veteran t-ball coach (10 yrs, 3 sons) i learned that all 5 & 6 year old ball players can actually count runs. THE KIDS always know the score, even if their parents and league officials pretend there was no score.
    could that competitive thing be something God put there, or is it strictly an Amr thing? on second thought, it couldn’t be an Amr thing, b/c i coached t-ball in Manila, so maybe it is a Filipino/Amr thing.

  2. Keith, I’ve done my share of coaching, umping and reffing, too. The fact of the matter is that parents of kids competing from about 5 and up want to know what the “unofficial score” was, let alone the kids. Actually, most kids that age don’t care as much as the parents, from my experiences. So why should we force “non-competition” when we in fact care about the score? The score is one factor of a game among many – that’s why we have stats. A good parent and/or coach looks at all aspects of the game and life, and uses all situations for teaching and life preparation in the areas the children/young athletes need it! What do you think, Keith. By the way, it was good spending time with you in Dallas last month.

  3. I agree Keith. We are still in the t-ball, machine pitch world (even soccer when in season) and no official scoring taking place, BUT my boys are keeping score. Your take is right on many levels. How can you teach the proper way to win or lose if you don’t do either? Don’t want any weenies around here!

  4. Dave, I enjoyed hanging with you as well. Hope all is great with you, your fam, and your church.

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