Photo by: Shutterstock

Nice Doesn't Win Games

Photo by: Shutterstock

While shopping this week, I found a shirt prominently displayed in a bustling children’s section. Emblazoned across the front:

“Nice doesn’t win games.”


I stopped in my tracks and read it over and over and over again. Was something lost in translation? Finding nothing on the reverse and no additional words that would settle the pit beginning to beat in my stomach, I walked on. With my small people, I collected the necessities, reminding them to remember their niceties. Irony moving through and around us as swiftly as their feet and my cart.

A week later, I cannot forget that shirt. What we put out in the world sinks in. It sticks around.
For me, it’s more than simply attaching a negative connotation to an overused, but important, word. “Nice.” In the context of the ‘play hard and play to WIN!’ mentality advertised on the shirt, the word was sticky sweet and unattractive. Mentally substituting nice with one of its more gentile synonyms – “kind” — the shirt loomed darker, losing any whiff of the whimsy it already struggled to portray.

We are the problems we see in the world. It’s never, “just a shirt.” It’s who we are and what we believe, and we paste it across our chests or on the bumpers of our cars, and forget that the world is watching. Our children are watching.

Nice doesn’t win games, but it wins over hearts. It wins you friends, and kindness feeds our collective soul.

Nice doesn’t win games, but games are only worth playing if you are learning how to exist in the framework of a team. Sacrificing personal glory for the good of your group, with the best interest of your team guiding your choices and decisions.

Nice doesn’t win games, but winning isn’t important. Winning is “nice,” but, it’s not why we play. We play because we love the game. We play to inspire greatness in ourselves and others. We play to become a part of making and participating in community. We don’t just play to win. Do we?

Nice doesn’t win games, but it will win you respect. It will win you the ears of trusted companions. Nice doesn’t win games, but every day the kindness of strangers changes lives, opens doors and restores hope.

Nice may not win games on the field, but it keeps us level and balanced on the playing field of life. And in the end, the only adage that remains true is, ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.’

So, play nice.

Bethany Thies is a writer and the proud mother of four young Vikings. She can often be found searching for socks, keys, discount non-perishables and a bathroom lock her children cannot pick. Bethany is the author of a popular parenting blog, Bad Parenting Moments and a chronically unread poetry blog, ‘Room for Cream.’

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