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'Dudemom': Learning to win important for young athletes

NFL Health Playbook will feature a guest columnist every week, each with a different viewpoint of player health and safety from the youth level to pro football.

By Amanda Rodriguez, NFL Health Playbook columnist

"How's the season going?"

It's one of the most common questions people ask during football season, when I share with them that my sons play.

The question asks lots of things: How they like it? Are they injury free? How well are they performing? Are they winning?

I usually say it's going well -- they love it, they've never sustained any injuries, they are strong players, they play on a team with a winning record.

Which brings me to the whole idea about winning in youth sports.

This year the team my boys play on entered the playoffs with an 8-1 record. They went all the way through playoffs, holding the opposing teams scoreless, and came home with the super bowl champions title.

They finished the year ranked as one of the top five teams in the state.

It was a good season.

A good, winning season.

I've struggled with that element in the past because it seems the idea that children should play sports to win isn't very highly regarded. Sports are about fun and physical education. They are to help young people develop a healthy relationship with their bodies, their minds and other children. Sports are a way to help kids socialize and a way to ensure they develop a habit of wellness and physical exertion.

And they are also about winning.

Learning how to be a winner is as important for young people as learning to lose. They need to know what it takes to win -- the dedication to their sport, to their team and themselves. They need to understand that winning doesn't always come easily, and doing it consistently takes courage, devotion, faith and respect. And winning as a team is even more impactful. Winning teams get to experience something together that allows them to appreciate each other, their leadership and themselves in a new way.

And, in the same way you teach your children to stay away from poor sportsmanship and being a sore loser, winning gives your child the opportunity to learn how to be a classy winner -- an empathetic, kind, winner who relishes their achievement while also respecting and appreciating the position of the players on the losing side.

This season, our players received complements each week from opposing coaches and team parents regarding their class, their kindness, their dedication and their teamwork. They showed what it means to have a good, winning season. They showed us what it means to be a winner -- on and off the field.

Sports are about so many things, and one of them is definitely winning.

Amanda Rodriguez is a humor and lifestyle blogger at In addition to having a loose grip on reality, Amanda enjoys traveling to far off lands (or, not so far off lands) with her family and cheering herself hoarse on the sidelines of her sons' games. They will thank her one day, she's certain.

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