Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

More Olympic Lessons


In the Canada-Sweden curling game early on when the score was a Canadian player erred and accidentally touched a rock (one that was stationary in the house) with his foot.  Kevin pointed it out the Swedish skip and instead of invocating any penalty just put the rock back in its original position.  So the good sportsmanship continues in curling. 

Canadians also celebrate athletes who come 10 or 12 or 6th or whatever as long as they try hard and do their best.  In thinking about it there is something to celebrate when somebody comes does a personal best.  Maybe in sporting events list this we focus too much on winning and losing.  Do you think that celebrating good effort will lead to less excellence?  more participation?  ultimately better performance?  or who cares?

An interesting corollary to this is that apparently the Canadian downhill skiers decided to take a lot of risk and “gold or nothing”.  All 3 fell and got nothing.  Is this the best thing to do?  Maybe?  Perhaps it is the getting of the gold that inspires new players to enter the sport.

What do we have today that inspires new players to decide to compete at bridge.  Not much.  At least not much that has any publicity.  A few things.  But not much.

I was amused by two things in the paper yesterday.  First Stephen Colbert (who I really enjoy watching) has gone to the Vancouver Olympics complete with fake snow and a moose.  In the photo below the moose is featured along with Stephen and Bob Costa.  Apparently he explained to onlookers that if he was covering the games without benefit of marijuana.  (Hmm maybe that would help when I get a bit nervous before a big game!)


And a second article talked about how Canadians had visit a “Sports Shaman” before the games.   The skeleton racers had their sleds blessed, built a totem pole and painted it with their hopes and dreams.  Part of their exercise was to discover their spirit or power animal.  One of them was a turtle for example (which seems a bit strange for people who want to go really really fast).  Anyway I was thinking about the power of attitude, thinking and dealing with performance anxiety.  Maybe this really does help.  I don’t think I would go as far as painting a totem pole but maybe I need to find my spirit animal.  I want a TALL spirit animal maybe a giraffe might be the best  (not for peaking no, no).

Which brings me back to Canadian bridge.  On my to do list I am going to go back to working on fund raising for Canadian teams.  Its great that people enjoy playing in the world championships but it seems like we ought to care about doing well too.  Maybe it would be better to raise money for training or creating a better program than for sending teams.

It is wonderful to watch Kevin Martin curl.  The team has trained hard, this is what they do, they curl.  Each man knows his role.  Each is an expert at executing that role.

In the end we need to strive for excellence.  You can’t always win.  But you can always put out a good performance.

Now then there is the Canadian men hockey players… they sucked last night … but not going there.


LuiseFebruary 19th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

You raise an interesting point about celebrating efforts vs. results and it is something that I strive for on a daily basis in my parenting techniques.

Rewarding and celebrating only efforts is ALWAYS my goal because, somewhat ironically, rewarding for results doesn’t get results!

I’m specifically going to be talking about very young and impressionable minds here (in the 2-10 year old range), but I believe that the same principles hold true no matter how old you are. I’m going to speak in terms of parenting, because it’s what I know best.

Suppose you said to your child: “Wow, you got an A on your report card! You’re really smart!”.

Contrast this with:

“Wow, you dunked the basketball! You’re really tall!”

What’s the difference in those two sentences? The latter isn’t really a compliment, is it? Because the basketball player doesn’t have any control over his height — it’s genetic. The same is true for the first sentence as well — a child can’t control his intelligence, so it’s not really a compliment either. What the child can control is how hard they worked to get that A, or the efforts that they made in their basketball practice.

If a child is smart, continually rewarding her for results (because they are usually good results) is a double-edged sword. When the child doesn’t really try very hard, but gets an A anyway, and gets rewarded for it, she learns that she doesn’t really need to work hard. When she DOES try at something that maybe she isn’t very good at, she won’t try to improve or do better, she will just give up. Because what’s the point in trying if you can’t get rewarded or if you aren’t the best? Only being the best matters, so everything else isn’t worth doing.

Now, if a child isn’t smart, but is continually rewarded for his efforts (and it doesn’t really matter whether or not he gets good results), he will be more willing to try things that he isn’t very good at. He will be more likely to try harder when something isn’t going the way he wants it to. He will be more willing and able to critically look at his work and evaluate whether or not the work was a “good result”. He will be his own critic, his own judge, he will have an internal motivation and he will achieve HIS personal best — whatever that may be.

I always reward based on efforts, not based on results. Because rewarding efforts gets results.

(BTW, it’s virtually impossible to reward efforts from an Olympic competition unless you actually KNOW the effort that was involved in getting the person to where they are today. Unless you personally know the athlete, I don’t believe that it is even possible to reward for “efforts” because you will never have enough information to make that call of whether or not they should be “rewarded”.)

LuiseFebruary 19th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I wanted to add as an afterthought: in an Olympic competition, if an athlete achieves his or her personal best in the competition (even if they finished in last place) I would feel proud of their accomplishments!

HowardFebruary 20th, 2010 at 11:36 am

Dear Linda, Referring to your point as to what can be done to inspire people to play bridge is a tough tough question. Publicity is one key factor…..endorsements by big celebrities outside the game is another. Perhaps the game needs to be glamourised in some way. It needs to get onto TV. Over here we have a programme called “Strictly come dancing ” where celebrity non-dancers pair up with professionals. Each week they compete in a dance-off competition, where one couple gets knocked out until there’s a final of 4. Perhaps you Canadians could run a Strictly Come Bridging competition on the same lines. Big showbiz celebrities learning to play bridge with their professional bridge partners. Then comes the weekly competition ( best clips shown ), where the bottom pair must then leave the show. Finally, from the last four couples play, the top pair will be declared the winners. I’m sure viewers would be fascinated to see celebs struggling to come to terms with a very challenging mind sport……and with expert commentary, viewers might get to realise te abstract beauty of the game. Do you have any contact with canadian TV producers? Yours Howard

competition where one gets knocked out, and the eventual

Bobby WolffFebruary 20th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Hi Linda, Luise and Howard,

Linda, you have capsulized very important competitive decisions and the reasons why, to which I am impressed. It may be difficult to exclude the individuality of any athlete when it comes to desire or to goals which, in turn, at these Olympics caused a flame-out for those Canadians who had set their sights on gold or nothing.

While it is well known that Canadians as a group should be classified as staunch, talented, well meaning individuals, at least in bridge, the administrators suffered through a period of self-serving decisions which contributed toward lesser results than their Country’s talent deserved.

Please continue writing, using your considerable sense of humor, but always in a truthful, constructive, Canadian is primary, way.

Luise, I agree totally in your direction and teaching of young people. You cannot distribute talent or fate, and therefore only have an influence on effort. After all, even a supremely gifted person needs incentive for him or her to even begin to achieve what he or she is capable of accomplishing so what you are doing and suggesting is picture perfect. However, history still has genius like Tiger Woods reduced to tabloids, a victim of the poisoned flowers on the way to sainthood. Try as we like and must, the sweet smell of success is very difficult to achieve and sometimes even harder to maintain.

Howard, your idea’s, both now and maybe later, are what bridge needs, which, when blessed with the next stage of experiment and fulfillment, lead us to where all of us connected to bridge, want to go. The three of you make a formidable triad and all worth listening to, and perhaps leading us.

Leave a comment

Your comment