This decision is a loser

5/29/2012


A youth soccer organization in Canada recently made the unbelievably absurd decision to no longer keep scores or standings. And we’re not talking about the under 5, 7 or even 9-year-old programs.
 
It’s for the – are you sitting down for this? – the under 13 age group. So in one off-the-charts ridiculous motion the not-so-brilliant minds overseeing this program have managed to kick to the curb so much of what makes sports so incredibly special.
 
These poor kids will now be deprived of all the goose bump raising moments that anyone who has ever played sports knows you cherish for a lifetime.
 
“Sorry kid, since you’re in our program you’ll never know the thrill of scoring a game-winning goal and being high-fived and mobbed by your teammates, but hey, at least that’s a pretty cool grass stain you got on your uniform today.”
 
Seriously, what’s going on here?
 
The program has squashed opportunities for these kids to be a part of those stomach-flipping, come-from-behind victories that make all the practicing and hard work worthwhile.
 
They’ve deprived them of learning one of the most sacred lessons of team sports: How working together as a team is more productive and rewarding than playing selfishly.
 
And what about learning that ultra valuable life skill of winning and losing with grace?
 
Competition is good; actually it’s great, and while keeping score serves no purpose in beginning level programs where the kids can’t even tie their shoes yet, it is entirely appropriate for kids on the ledge of jumping into their teen-age years.
 
Life is packed with challenges and obstacles and children 11- and 12-years-old certainly need to begin experiencing some of those lessons through the power of sports. Celebrating the wins and dealing with disappointment are all key components of growing up.
 
If we can’t start teaching kids these values at this age, then when?
 
Kids need to know that they aren’t always going to be on the winning side, and that’s okay. As they transition into adulthood they’re not always going to get the job they covet, the raise they seek or own the fanciest house on the block.
 
But ideally through competing – and the ups and downs of winning some and losing others – they gain understanding on the importance of always striving to do their best, respecting their opponent and accepting the outcome of the game with their heads held high.     

What’s baffling is that kids at this age know who won and who lost, and even though the league isn’t keeping score the kids are – because it does matter.
 
So why pretend it doesn’t?


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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