Is Second Place the First Loser?
How many of you are active as volunteers? Do you give your time, talent and treasure to help organizations? How many of you provide free consulting advice or mentor others who need a hand up or handout?
Most of us wake up on Monday morning ready to do another week's battle in the trenches to make mankind a better place. It is important that we practice what we preach, and if we get paid to serve, we should also volunteer to serve. I also know it is easier to volunteer for something where you have interest or a passion. Have you checked your volunteer meter lately?
I volunteer for several organizations each year. I also find myself overextended at times but cannot say no to causes. One particular interest of mine is coaching boy's baseball. I have coached for several decades in several states, volunteering as manager, coach, associate coach, assistant coach, stat coach, etc. I have coached boys from ages 5 to 19. It has put me in many situations with parents, staff, players, officials and fans. My overwhelming memory of my volunteerism is very positive. That said, recently I was involved in a negative memory.
The eight-old-year baseball team I currently help coach played in a baseball tournament that was double elimination in scope. That means your team stays in the tournament until you lose twice. When all of the other teams lose twice and you have either not lost or lost only once, you win the tournament. We played in a Saturday and Sunday tournament. On Saturday, the team played three games and won all three. On Sunday, the team won a game, lost a game and then lost the final game (7-6) in the bottom of the last inning. Thus, the team finished runner-up in the tournament.
As usual, the championship and runner-up teams lined up on the base lines to receive their plaques. As our team was about to receive our runner-up plaque, I heard a person say very loudly for all to hear that second place is for the first loser. I am usually very quiet and respectful, but in this case, I responded that our players did not deserve that comment. They played hard, and I was very shocked and dismayed that anyone would publicly dampen the moment of joy for our players. They just played six games in two days and are only 8 years old!
I now see the beauty in finishing second, as many teams never receive a plaque or trophy for their efforts. The goal of sports should be to teach good sportsmanship. Children and adults like to be recognized for their efforts, regardless of outcome. The coaches, umpires, parents of players, fans and others volunteer their time to promote a spirit of good will and enjoyment so all can enjoy. As for the young players, by promoting a fun environment for them to enjoy, they might grow up to be future volunteers and donors for many organizations. We need to make baseball and any activity fun for children. The future of philanthropy depends on it.
As I left the field, one of my players gave me a hug and thanked me for coaching him to a runner-up plaque. He was happy and was planning to play laser tag with his teammates. I can see a future in development for that second baseman. The only loser in the second place finish was anyone that would think that winning was all or nothing.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.