Nothing has illuminated my competitive side more than this newly purchased fitness tracker.
Nothing has illuminated my competitive side more than this newly purchased fitness tracker.

I’ve become a slave to a black rubber band.

The crazy thing? I chose to be enslaved.

With Christmas money, I purchased a fitness tracker band. Each day since, I’ve strapped this bit of technology to my wrist. Each day, it provides me with a goal of steps to complete that day. And each day, the goal increases. 

The theory: a fitness tracker would provide the motivation I need to get active again after a little too much indulging throughout the holidays. And it’s worked. Boy, has it worked.

Each morning, the band illuminates my new goal. First it was 7,500 steps. Then 8,350. Today is 9,936. (Not that I’m counting.)

And you’d better believe I’m going to do whatever it takes to surpass that goal. Even if it means doing laps in my photography studio. Or jogging in place in my living room.

I mean… hypothetically speaking, of course…

And then it hit me. I’m competitive. Like, ridiculously competitive.

My only “competition” within this fitness band is the algorithm that generates the number. But I. must. win.

I suppose I’ve always been this way. Whether it was that spelling bee in fifth grade (when I, a writer and former magazine editor, lost by misspelling “magazine” – talk about irony); any time I stepped into the ring with a heifer or steer; or in the highly saturated portrait photography market – I like to win.

Of course, winning hasn’t always been in the cards for every situation. And I’ve had plenty of chances to practice good sportsmanship and gracious losing.

But really. I don’t like to lose. Who does?

And I wonder, how is that transferring to our children?

Craig and I see our children being competitive with each other. Over the TV remote. Over who can run to the barn more quickly for chores. You know, the important things.

But we also see the boys’ competitive sides arising in schoolwork. In sports. And, of course, in the show ring.

Waylon, 9, began showing Hereford cattle two years ago and is entering his third year of showing. Our goals have gradually increased with each year. He hasn’t yet tasted any tremendous success, in terms of awards, from showing.

Who knows what each year will bring. Hopefully, a bit more success with each year that passes.

Chances are, as the taste of success increases, so will the desire to win.

Is that a bad thing? We don’t believe so.

Yes, research exists on both sides of the issue. But let’s face it. We live in a competitive world.

What better environment to foster the development of humble winning and gracious losing than in the show ring.

We, as show parents, are entrusted with the responsibility to nurture healthy competition. And it’s not something we should take lightly.

Every show is a chance for us to teach our children to respect the judge and his or her opinion of the day – whether we agree or not. Every show is a chance for us to teach the importance of sportsmanship with fellow competitors and friends. Every show is a chance to be an example of graciousness and humility when the banner is handed to us.

Of course, we all want to win. We wouldn’t compete if we didn’t.

As parents, though, we can’t forget the lessons to be taught.

But this doesn’t apply to fitness trackers, does it? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few laps to make around my living room again.