Why coaching character is more important than winning cattle shows

July 1, 2015

3 Min Read
Why coaching character is more important than winning cattle shows

This week across the country, junior members of several breed organizations are attending their respective breed’s junior national show, where they will compete not only in the ring with their steers and heifers, but will also participate in contests such as sales talk, public speaking, beef cook-off and other team leadership skill-building events that keep the kids engaged during a long and busy week at a national show.

It’s my sister’s final year in 4-H, and as this chapter in my family’s life comes to a close, some of my favorite memories of showing cattle weren’t the times our stock did well in the show ring; they were the early mornings spent in the barn, the long drive to the shows, the days spent together with my sisters and parents. Showing cattle to me was learning how to win and to lose gracefully. It was gaining a greater appreciation for genetics, nutrition and breeding seedstock cattle that would work in the show ring, as well as in the pasture and in a feedlot.

that reflects on the importance of parents remembering that showing livestock is about building character in kids, not just winning trophies and banners.

On her blog, Sankey writes, “I witnessed something this week. Within an hour of arriving to the county fair I saw an adult completely humiliate a child showing livestock. Their tactic: Stand ringside, verbally (and loudly) critique the showmanship of the child and wrap up the disgusting display by visually displaying disappointment in the kid. I wanted to throw up. Then I saw something I'd never seen before: a broken heart with a buzz cut, pig whip in his hand and tears on his cheeks. Unbearable.”

After sharing what she had witnessed at the county fair, Sankey offers this important reminder:

Showing livestock is about building character. Your kid isn't going to make a living precisely parading livestock, keeping the flawless stock between himself and the judge. Your kid may go on to make a living breeding and selling sought genetics, building relationships far and wide, developing a brand and cultivating a passion which generations to come will benefit from. But perfect showmanship tactics? They come and go. The county fair is the place to cultivate those interests and polish those talents. No one becomes famous here. Calm down.

Showing livestock is about building character. It's also about displaying character. They're watching. And when you scold them in public? You're breaking their confidence. And when you throw a fit? You're giving them permission to do the same. And when you return to the stalls or the show box and bad-mouth the judge? You're teaching them how to discount anyone who ever offers them constructive criticism.”

Whether it’s sports, rodeo, showing cattle or any other competition you support your kids or grandkids in, remember that they won’t necessarily remember every win and loss, but they will remember whether you built them up or broke them down. Let’s build character at cattle shows this summer and remember that kids are looking to you to set the example. Be the kind of person you want your kids to grow up to be. 

What do you think? Is negativity and too much pressure a problem at events you attend? How do you build character in your kids and grandkids? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.


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