The Philadelphia Eagles earned their hard-fought 41-33 Super Bowl victory Sunday over the New England Patriots. It was the very first Super Bowl win for the underdog Eagles and there was a grudging acceptance, even among those of us who root for far better teams like the Dallas Cowboys, that they had earned this hard-fought win.
Not by Gisele Bündchen, though, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. She was at the game with their children, age 8 and 5, and with Tom Brady’s son with ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan, age 10. According to USA Today, the children were upset about the loss, so Bündchen told them: "Just this time. Daddy won five times. They never won before. Their whole life, they never won a Super Bowl. You have to let someone else win sometimes…. We have to share.”
The idea that Tom Brady or the Patriots “let” the Eagles win the Super Bowl is ridiculous, of course, and Bündchen shouldn’t be peddling that to kids. It teaches them to expect that winning is something that other people will sometimes grant them, instead of something they earn on their own. It’s a lesson their father doesn’t demonstrate on the field at all.
Bündchen’s comments also insult her husband. They say that Brady didn’t really try or that the game was fixed from the start, with a win going to the Eagles no matter what happened. Everyone knows the Patriots fought to win and it didn’t go their way. It would have been far better for Bündchen to say that.
Comforting children after they don’t get something they really wanted, or when they suffer a loss, is complicated. But it’s important to give kids the tools to handle that kind of adversity.
The children aren’t babies. They are at ages where they can be taught to understand concepts such as loss and, more importantly, sportsmanship. Tom Brady is also being criticized this week for not congratulating Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles. Both Brady and his wife should think about the message about good game play that they are sending to their kids.
In an age where we’re concerned about “participation trophies” rewarding mediocrity, the wife of one of the game’s best players shouldn’t be glossing over the effort that winning entails. Teaching your kids that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but to always do your best is a much better lesson than saying a person or a team won because it was their turn.