We all know that Cam Newton lost the big game on Sunday, February 7, 2016. Everyone is really upset with how he reacted in the press conference and calling him a sore loser. While I don’t have any allegiance to the Panthers or to Cam Newton, I propose the following food for thought: Is he a sore winner too? See, anyone can win and brag and throw their hands in the air or beat their chest and say that they are the best, but is it the right thing to do? Who decides what is the right thing to do? As a parent to three young children, how do I communicate the “right thing” to them?
One thing is for sure. Cam Newton’s reaction and handling of the loss has opened up a conversation across the country on what someone “should” do and how they “should” react. (Now that is a lot of quotations!) Cam’s defense is that he will not “bend or conform” for anyone, but regardless of what he feels, he had a professional obligation to speak to the media whether he won or lost. It is completely understandable for him to be upset after losing such a huge game…especially after having a wonderful season where he and the Panthers were nearly undefeated. It is also important to keep in mind that Cam has not done a lot of losing. He was a Junior Champion, won a National Championship with the Auburn Tigers and was coming off of one of the best seasons in the NFL before losing the game that mattered the most.
If you are looking for someone to tell you what is right and what is wrong, you won’t find it here. What I can tell you is that just like Cam, I have learned from this experience. I have learned that there are at least three things I need to communicate to my now five-year-old son that will help to enrich his life. These lessons have been inspired by Cam Newton’s situation:
1. Win With Grace – After winning games, Cam can come across as super confident…dare I say arrogant at times. He has his famous Super Man celebration dance that he does after scoring a touchdown, which is all good, but it’s a certain swagger and cockiness that makes his likability factor go down. I will encourage my son to win with grace and thank the other team and also share the credit for his wins (in sports or in life) with the team that helped him accomplish it.
2. Know Who You Are – I have to commend Cam for knowing who he is and for sticking to his guns and not apologizing for his reaction. He told the media that he is a sore loser and that is just how it is. He also admitted that he was very emotional after the game and those emotions might have gotten the best of him. Regardless, he did not apologize publicly for his reaction and the jury is still out for me if an apology is necessary or not.
3. Lead Like Everyone’s Watching – This one might sound strange given my second one, but let me explain. When you are in a leadership position, you have to lead by example. I knew the game was over when Cam started to hang his head, stop playing as hard and mentally gave up. I have seen it before in super stars of many other sports that when the game starts turning south for them…you can almost see them saying “why am I even trying.” If you give up, you will never win and your actions will have residual effects across your entire team.
Whether you like Cam Newton and the Panthers or not, you have to admit that on a stage this big…kids are watching…and learning from experiences like these. It is our jobs as parents to help guide them in the right direction and not fuel hatred towards someone in a tough position, but rather to use it as an opportunity for growth, compassion and empathy.
Finally, just for fun at the end of a serious post, here is a lip sync video that I was crying over watching that includes Cam Newton talking about snakes. Too much!