In life, some things are just more important than winning … a story:

The young lad came bounding into the kitchen with an enthusiasm only a nine-year-old can display. He was attired head-to-toe in the colours of his favourite team - bedecked in a black and yellow striped jumper, scarf and even a beanie. A vestment totally unsuited to the mounting temperature of the day’s morning. The boy’s father, munching on a piece of toast asked with a slight smile,

“Hey son, what day is it today?”

The look the boy gave his dad could only best be described as incredulous. “Why it’s Saturday, silly.”

“Oh,” replied Dad with a smile behind his eyes, “I almost forgot.”

“Dad, remember, we’re going to the footy, aren’t we?” asked the lad in innocent concern.

“Sure are,” replied the elder as he took another bite of toast.

“Hey, son,” he continued after he had swallowed the morsel. “Do you know where the word Saturday comes from?”

The boy’s brow furrowed as he looked curiously at his father. “Ah, nah!” was the genuine reply.

“Well,” continued dad, “the word Saturday originates from ancient Roman times. It comes from the planet Saturn, who they worshipped as one of their really important gods.”

The lad looked at his father with only a modicum of interest, trying his best to stay focused on the conversation.

“And do you know what else,” continued the older man?“ “In ancient Rome, well over two thousand years ago, they used to have games in large arenas just like our own.”

The boy’s eyes seemed to glow at this extra piece of half-relevant information.

“Yes, except that the games were held with gladiators, and these gladiators used to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd.”

“Oh, my!” exclaimed the lad. “Do you mean to say that they battled one another until their opponent was killed?”

“Yep!” replied dad after another bite of toast.

The boy’s brows creased together in consternation. “Why did they do that?”

“Well, they fought to the death for the glory of winning and the roar of the crowd. If they won their battle, they were even called, ‘a god of the arena’. A great laurel in those days.”

“Geez, Dad,” said the boy, “I’m glad we don’t live in those days.”

“Yeah, I guess not, son. I mean, to have to kill someone to win the game would be pretty horrible, don’t you think?”

“Sure would,” replied the boy with certainty.

A quiet few moments descended between the pair as they both pondered the magnitude of the information before them.

“Hey, son,” said the father, “it makes you wonder why winning is so important, doesn’t it?’

“Huh?” replied the nine-year-old a bit out of his depth.

“Well, in our game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Isn’t that so?”

“Yeah, and I hate it when we lose,” replied the boy as his shoulders sagged.

“I guess,” continued father, “winning isn’t everything. Maybe it’s even more important to lose than to win all the time.”

At this, the lad’s eyebrows really did join together.

“I mean to say,” continued dad, “isn’t the most important thing, after you lose that is, to get up and try again? To fight hard to do better next time and to learn from your mistakes, so that you improve and practice some more and get better than you thought you were.”

“Yeah, I guess it is,” replied the boy.

Then, after a little more toast, Dad asked, “Hey, son, do you think the Tigers will win today?”

The boy’s brows once again cemented. “I dunno, Dad. But you know what? I reckon it really doesn’t matter.”

“What?” replied father with surprise.

“Don’t you see, Dad? Even if we lose we will get off the canvas, fight hard to get better and become a stronger team for it.”

The older man looked at his young cadet with evident pride as he picked up his hat and rose from his seat. “You know, son, I think you’re right.”

The two looked at one another in a compact. As if by osmosis, they knew what time it was as they made their way towards the front door. Then, just as they were about to open the door to leave, the young boy stopped suddenly and turned to his father.

“Hey, Dad, do you know what’s so good about Saturdays?”

“No, son!” replied the father somewhat bemused by the question.

“I’m spending the day with you,” said the nine-year-old with a sparkle in his eyes.

The father looked at his son with love as he placed his arm around his boy’s shoulder as they left the house. “I reckon so, my son. Thank God it’s Saturday.”