The Washington Post

Nats win: persistence, persistence, persistence

That Nationals are more than the winners of the National Division League East Championship. They’re also an extraordinary inspiration, a real-life Bad News Bears complete with the misfit characters and low expectations that make their victory all the more delicious.

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

You’re team lost and you’re despondent? You’ve had a losing season and you want to quit? You feel like you’re team is letting you down? Let’s chat about the personification of perseverance.

The pendulum is swinging in parenting as more and more educators and child advocates see the fruits of a generation of parents who tried to make life a little easier on their kids’ psyches. That is the generation that gave out trophies to both teams and awarded kids for showing up. Those kids are now young adults and struggling through professional and personal rejections, stings they never learned how to endure before.

Now, the latest advice is captured in books like Paul Tough’s newly published “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character,” (Houghton Mifflin). Let them fail. Let them learn how to lose game after game after game and keep playing hard.

Is there a better role model than Ryan Zimmerman?

The Post’s Fred Bowen, who writes about sports in Kids Post and has written several sports books for children, has written of this scenario before. It was back in 2004, when his perpetually runner-up Red Sox won the World Series.

“Often coaches and parents tell kids, when things are going against them in a game or at school, ‘Keep trying. Don’t give up. Everything will be okay.’ Many times, that isn’t true. Kids try really hard and still don’t win the game or make the honor roll. So, once in a while, it is important to see an amazing comeback such as the Red Sox’s 2004 World Series win.

“It’s true you may not come back every time, but it is absolutely true that you will never come back if you quit. You may not be on the first team to go from three games down to win the World Series. You may just want to make a team, improve at a new sport or score a goal. But none of those things can happen if you stop trying.”

He went on to point out that Big League wins provide lessons about commitment and loyalty too.

“It would have been easy for these fans (myself included) to say: ‘I give up. They’ll never win. Maybe I’ll root for some other team.’ But those fans who stayed true to their team were rewarded with the most wonderful of wins.

“So there you have it. When things get tough, remember the Red Sox. Don’t give up. And stick with your team.”

Well said.

I’d merely swap out his team for a certain 2012 championship one.

Has your family been following the Nats trajectory? Have you talked about how their experience might apply more broadly?

Related Content:

‘How Children Succeed’: Character, not IQ

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