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A response to Mr. Jack Swarbrick

Leonard J. DeLorenzo | Sunday, October 6, 2013

Like Coach Brian Kelly and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, my wife and I have recently experienced the challenges that come with implementing a new policy relative to post-game activities. Fortunately for us, we now have Mr. Swarbrick’s very persuasive Letter to the Editor to support our own decision regarding how our family’s post-game routine changes when our son’s soccer team loses a match.
For some time, it was our practice to share a family meal after his soccer games – win or lose – but in light of recent circumstances and the wisdom we have received from Mr. Swarbrick’s defense of Coach Kelly, we have decided to cancel our family meal when our son’s team fails to achieve what they set out to do.
The policy shift is important to our family for two reasons. First, we do not want to support failure by coming together as a family when one of our children’s teams falls short. Second, we do not want to subject any of our children (or ourselves) to the ridicule that may come from other kids’ families were we to go out to eat together when our son’s team plays in another city. Since we want to protect our children and ourselves from this potential ridicule on the road, we have decided that for the sake of consistency we will implement one policy regarding the post-game meal, applicable to both home and away matches.
This policy emerged as an issue within our family when, to our embarrassment, our younger children sat down together at the kitchen table last Saturday after their older brother lost a home soccer game earlier in the day. While our eldest son remembered our directives and thus refrained from sitting down with his siblings, his younger sister and brother “had forgotten the policy” due to the fact that they “had no frame of reference because they had never experienced a home defeat.” All they remembered was the incredible last-second victory their older brother’s team accomplished the previous season and the equally incredible family meal we shared afterwards. My wife and I have since reminded them that our family is “deeply appreciative of the support each of [them] provides to [their brother’s] team,” and that our new family policy is really designed to acknowledge and encourage their ongoing support.
We are grateful to Mr. Swarbrick for helping us put our family’s post-game activities in perspective. We have come to recognize that the meal that our family shares after my son’s team is victorious on the soccer field is “an expression of solidarity” among the members of our family that we can “enjoy only after we achieve our shared goal of victory […] whether that triumph comes at home or on the road.” Our unity is not nearly as tangible or as meaningful when his team goes down in defeat, and so we require our children to eat dinner separately on those nights. On the whole, we prefer “to preserve the special experience [of sharing a meal for] when they achieve the shared goal of victory.”  Our eldest son understands this because he knows that we are raising him to believe that victory is by far the most important thing. The unity of our family is secondary to the primary goal of winning and subsequently bringing honor to our family. Therefore, expressions of our family’s unity should not take place in undesirable circumstances. 
Despite the clarity and conscientiousness of our decision, our other children are still a bit upset with this arrangement. However, we remain confident that this approach is consistent with the general educational mission of our family. We have reassured our dissenting children that we will use the off-season to “talk about what we might do differently in 2014.” All the same, we have also been forthcoming in letting them know that “we cannot promise [them] that, in consultation with [the] players, we will reach a different conclusion about our approach to the post-game [meal].” Nevertheless, they should trust that “we will carefully consider the issue in light of the concerns [they] have raised.” 
Ultimately, we welcome the conversation we will have with the players and leadership of our son’s team to determine what might be the best course of action for our family going forward. For now, all of our children know that they must come to terms with the fact that, “for the remainder of this season” our family will solely focus on doing “all we can to be in a position, as victors [to share a meal together] after each game.” After all, this meal is a reward for what really matters: winning.
Leonard J. DeLorenzo
Class of 2003 
Notre Dame Vision
Oct. 4