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Sportsmanship is the Real Winner at Pinewood Derby

In some ways, Pinewood Derby can be disappointing for young, hopeful minds and hearts, especially considering the fact that most of the racers don’t end up technically being the fastest car, and therefore winning. But that’s where Scouting, sportsmanship, and the Pinewood Derby tradition can really be an opportunity for learning. Despite the fact that there are still winning cars, Pinewood Derby shouldn’t ultimately be a disappointing event for anyone. While the sting of defeat can be instructive, it’s important to keep the whole event a celebration of all the derbies, even if it’s someone else’s car.

Sportsmanship on Display

Which brings us to a stand-out Cub Scout moment recorded by Michelle, a Scout Mom and blogger of Gotchababy. At her son’s first Pinewood Derby, on the first heat of his first race, his block of wood on wheels didn’t quite cross the finish line. Breaking his mother’s heart, when it came time for his second heat, he said to her,“I’m not going to watch this one because I’m going to lose again.”

Well, as it happened, he was right. As his mom wrote “He was fully aware that he was in last place- his car didn’t beat a single other car…It’s a long two-hour event when you’re done in the first fifteen minutes. But he never once asked to go home.”

Sportsmanship and Pinewood Derby

So, what happened? It turns out, this Cub Scout knew a few things about sportsmanship at the Pinewood Derby and celebrating the event despite how his car performed, As Michelle recounts: “He rooted for his friend, whose car had an easier time on the track, and he busied himself with taking videos of the race track (all that You Tube watching is good for something). When it was over, I found him playing with his car in the hallway, telling me to watch the stunts it could do. “You know mom, this isn’t really a race car. It’s more of a stunt car.”

She continued, “He ran out to the van with almost as much enthusiasm as he did upon arriving, and my heart was more full than it was when we left home. He carried himself so well, rolled with the situation so maturely, and realized (maybe more than I did) that it wasn’t so much about winning or losing as it was about the experience.”

That’s it right there. While there are some winners and some cars that don’t make it to the end of the track, Pinewood Derby is all about the experience. Well, that and the fact that some cars are built for reasons other than speed.

You know mom, this isn’t really a race car. It’s more of a stunt car.

The lessons of Pinewood Derby for this Scout Mom had her reflect, “Of course there will be more lost baseball games and soccer games, science fairs where he doesn’t place and plays where he isn’t cast. There are going to be class elections he doesn’t win, and scholarships he doesn’t receive and colleges he’s not accepted into.  Hopefully Saturday gave him some experience in how to deal with life’s disappointments gracefully.”

Please read the full version of Michelle’s wonderful story at her blog, Gotchababy, and keep in mind the lessons of sportsmanship and excitement for Pinewood Derby this season.