Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Soccer: To win is to... lose?

My 4 year old just started playing soccer. Last week, with great excitement, we headed to to the field near our house for his first official practice and game. I put on his jersey, and took a ton of pictures with my camera, until the battery went dead, and then switched over to my iphone.

For the first time, I felt like a real adult - here I was, a mom, cheering on her son at a soccer game! It was the perfect evening - all the kids were so cute, chasing after the ball. Some children were much better than others, and regardless of the fact that my son's team lost (I think - no one was really paying attention!) To see my son just running on the field, as part of a team, was amazing. I was so very proud of him. He is playing with two of his friends, as well, which is a huge bonus.

For me, he is playing for fun this year. I'm proud of him no matter what. If his team never wins a game, I honestly won't be any less proud - at this age - it's all about learning the game, feeling like part of a team, and getting a bit of exercise.

I just found out that the very same soccer league he is on has introduced a new rule: any team that wins a game by more than five points will LOSE by default.

Yup, you read that correctly. What do I think about this? I don't agree with it at all.

I think it is our job as parents to tell our children that no matter what - win or lose- trying and giving their best is what is important. Another lesson children should learn from an early age is that they have to accept that will not always win.

They won't always win the soccer game, the race, or the board game. We have to teach our children that it's okay to lose. At the same time, to see another team win will also make our children want to do better; there is nothing wrong with pushing ourselves a little harder, right?

I think at the age my son is at, it doesn't really matter - but if his team worked hard, and got 5 goals, to have them 'lose' because they played so well - well, that's not really cool with me. This will make the team not want to do good. Imagine being scared to score a goal because it will make you will lose? That is really weird.

Instead, why not focus on helping kids stay positive about losing? Helping them improve their skills? Celebrate the wins?

What kind of lesson is this teaching our children? Play well, and you'll lose? Don't bother trying hard, because it doesn't matter in the end? What about teaching our children to not be sore losers? To accept loss, and to celebrate either way? To lose gracefully?

I'm so glad my son is on this league - it's a great one - but this new rule - I'm certainly not a fan of!

24 comments:

Amanda said...

Ugh, what is that supposed to teach the kids? Try, but not your best cause you'll be penalized for it? BIZARRE. Kids need to learn to win with humility and lose with dignity. Yes it sucks to get slaughtered by a better team but that's what ice cream after the game is for isn't it?

Rebecca said...

That's crazy! Is this to prepare them for all of the limitations school and work will lay on them next!

Shell said...

Ugh, I guess they don't want the other team to get trounced, but it's still a silly rule. It should be something that the coaches watch, not an official rule.

Caroline said...

My son's soccer leagues has chosen not to keep score at all. Next year when he moves up that will change. His hockey league did keep track of the score but they only ever showed a 5 point differential between the 2 teams. And his team got slaughtered - often (despite the league organizers trying to balance the teams). But the kids didn't seem to notice or care too much (some were more aware of it than others) and I rarely heard any kids complaining.

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

That is without a doubt one of the stupidest things I have EVER heard. What do they think they're going to accomplish??

Neena said...

That is an insane rule! It's things like that that are wrong with kids today - too much sheltering to keep it all fair. Everyone needs to learn to win...and lose gracefully (especially when they've earned it)

Krista said...

I would not be okay with that rule, either. Whatever happened to winners and losers? Plain and simple. Or just don't keep score at all at this age. Really lame.

BusyDad said...

Stupid rule! My son's first lacrosse game this year ended with them losing by 8 goals. The next game, they lost by 3 or 4, and they were ecstatic because it showed that they improved. They won one game this season, but the victory was sweet because it showed them all that through hard work, they could improve themselves and pull off a W. THAT was more valuable than anything they learned this year.

Jenn@ The Crazies said...

My son started football at age 4. BEST thing ever. This fall will be his 4th season and not only is he awesome at it.. he LOVES it. It taught him teamwork and he has made good solid friendships. Up until this year the parents and coaches keep score and when the kids ask ( and they DO ask) "did we win?" the coaches always would reply " did you have fun? thats all that matters"... though we really do keep score. This year he advances on to BIG BOY football... God help us!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Interesting message...it's okay to be better - but not THAT much better. Bizarre.

Julie said...

are you kidding me? that is a terrible lesson to teach the kids. i would have a huge issue with that. what i want to know is who thinks this is a good idea? reading the comments posted here, it doesn't seem like anyone would agree with it. so who made it and why are they in charge of league where they obviously don't listen to the parents?

BeachMama said...

Sorry that you guys are in that soccer league. Although I understand what they were trying to do, it would seem that it didn't work out that way at all and I think that we will see in the near future that they will be changing that rule. Kids need to learn how to win and how to lose. But, coaches also need to learn how to balance the teams fairly.

CaraBee said...

That is just plain ridiculous. I'm reading a book right now, called Nurture Shock, and one of the things it addresses is the fallacy that not allowing kids to win or lose is good for them. Sure, implement a slaughter rule if you want, but force the winners to lose? CRAZY.

Muthering Heights said...

That rule seems so backwards....why punish a winning team? Kids on both sides would still have fun, and learn something!

Wouldn't that discourage kids from giving it their all?

Nenette AM said...

No, that rule certainly makes no sense. I don't understand the message that's trying to convey.

becca said...

That doesn't make any sense At All. I know when Hannah played last fall and one team was KILLING the other, they swapped some players for the end of the game to make it more even. That was fine with me. Or if they are so concerned with the score Don't Keep Score! But you're so right, this rule sends a really messed up message which will be hard to UNteach when your child joins another soccer program. I'm sure no one can be so happy about this. I'd be beyond frustrated if I were you! Maybe start a petition!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

Whoa! I told my husband about this, who is a soccer coach, and he was like, "There's no such thing." Then he went on to tell me about the mercy rule, which obviously makes sense...but to make a team LOSE for scoring more than 5 points??? Crazy.

I think you're right though...at least your son gets to play with his friends, exercise and have fun. That's really the whole point at age 4.

Jessica said...

Congratulations on the big step into big boy sports!

That said.. if I had a nickel for every time I heard a mother rant about coaches or rules about LITTLE kid sports well...

That sounds very strange. I had to read it over again about 4 times (i'm tired!). I don't agree either, and it's trying to teach a lesson? HOW BIZARRE! That is not how the world works and it simly doesn't make sense (TO US and we are ADULTS!)

I can't wait to see some pictures of your beautiful boy in his jersey!

FortyNotOut said...

How bizarre! Youre so right that its the taking part and also learning how to lose. (something SC is not so good at but we keep trying!) It must be so wonderful yo watch him in the team.. I'd probably be all teary!! xx

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

That is so silly! I've seen similar rules that if you win by more than 3 pts. the score will only reflect a 3 pt. difference (so if the final score was 10-0, they would call it 3-0.) I don't necessarily agree, butI get it. Kids would feel pretty hurt by a crushing defeat.
Do I think we need to bang in the lesson that life is not fair at this young age? Not necessarily, but to make kids afraid to play well or they'd make their team lose? Utterly absurd.

The Millennial Housewife said...

Welcome to the New Wonderful world of competitive children's sports! My oldest son is 9 and up until this year in Little League, they did not keep score. We can't hurt anyone's feelings. I agree - learning to win OR lose with grace and dignity is a part of life. And, leagues that put these kind of rules on the game, make it impossible to teach the children how to do either one.

Saucy B said...

That's ridiculous. What a shame to rob the kids of a win. And it's also a missed opportunity to teach kids how to accept losing. Very poor judgment on the league's part.

The Empress said...

I agree. I did a post on this a week ago. I agree.

Lovely to meet you, came from thetamom. Congrats on being featured.

I am a mom to 3 boys, so, yeah, how could I not follow you.

I love your opening statement, too "I have been blogging for 3 years and see no end in sight."

True, true, true!

Lovely to meet you, I'm your newest follower.

A-dorable boys!!! (not that I'm partial to boys, or anything (-:)

MommyToTwoBoys said...

My 3 year old plays and they don't even keep score. All the parents cheer whenever either team scores. I am with you, that rule stinks!

Kids' sports' rules just keep getting worse and worse. When I was teaching Kindergarten (before having kids and becoming a stay at home mom)I once played duck, duck, goose with the kids and had a boy who lost throw a 45 minute tantrum. I have a son with Autism and this would be normal behavior, but the kid I am talking about was neuro-typical, and just upset over losing.

I finally made him call his mom from the office and he cried to her and blurted out that he never wins anything. He then proceeded to remind her of every single activity or game they had played that past year that he lost at! Ridiculous! It's all getting so out of hand!

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