Neither of my boys are very sports minded. It’s not that I didn’t try. Like all of the other mother’s, I signed them up for baseball, soccer, and swimming. But it became apparent very early on, that aside from swimming, the whole team sport thing was just not going to work. So we quietly retired from the sports scene and moved on to other activities to keep our boys busy. As a result, we did not spend a lot of time sitting in bleachers or experiencing that nail biting tension when your child competes.
This past year Son #2 joined a FIRST robotics team and I suddenly found myself inventing new ways to find comfort on hard bleachers, cheering with their triumphs and trying to be encouraging when things just didn’t go right.
If you aren’t familiar with FIRST it is a program designed to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Two of the core values at these competitions are: Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition.
According to FIRST:
Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It’s a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.
With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.
Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.
As a parent, it’s amazing to see Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition in action. When Son#2′s robot experienced a catastrophic injury to their robot, several teams stepped forward to help rebuild and offer parts to help them continue to compete.
I’m sorry to say that Son#2′s team did not move on to the semi-finals in his region, but the team is already talking about next year.
To give you an idea of what FIRST robotics is all about, here is a cool video to show you some of the previous competitions:
Now that the season is over, It’s time to get back to my writing.
Writing on the Sidewalk