I have played sports virtually my entire life. My parents were both athletes and put a high emphasis on it. Not at being the best there is, but ensuring we participated to the best of our abilities and were always involved in something.
For better or worse (I think mostly better) the person I am today is largely influenced by what I learned playing sports. In my extremely biased opinion, there are many real-world lessons that can be taught through the context of athletics. What’s more those lessons are served in mini form and are simple enough for a developing child’s brain to grasp. Kids playing sports is a good thing.
There has been a movement in sports that I have seen since my time playing. Looking back I seem to be fortunate enough to be essentially the last generation unaffected.
It’s a sweeping change that is robbing kids of a valuable lesson. It’s a lesson that everyone learns eventually but is much easier to swallow as a kid, when it’s related to a game, rather than as an adult and it’s life altering.
The lesson is how to lose.
The recent push to stop keeping scores may come from the right place (which I can only assume is not hurting kids’ feelings), but as the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions. While that may seem a little extreme, proponents of this methodology truly may want to stop and think about what this is teaching the athletes.
First lesson is that achieving your goals doesn’t matter. What happens when one of the players score in these “fun” games? I can only assume nothing and then they are told just to go do it again. Talk about demotivating.
Second lesson is that everyone is treated equal. That isn’t even true if you want it to be. Rather than learning that practicing to improve your skills and putting in effort can increase your chances at success, they learn that everyone wins no matter how good you are or hard you work.
The third lesson that I’ll go into is they are learning to expect praise. The supporters often say that it’s more important to build the self-esteem of the kids. What’s better at building self-esteem than winning? And what’s a better motivator than losing?
Looking back growing up, I had a variety of experiences on different teams. There were championships and seasons where we lost practically every game. I was a bench-rider and a go-to person. There were teams that got along and others that didn’t. Regardless of the year, I learned something.
Since apparently movie quotes are my thing now, this whole situation reminds me of one from The Incredibles.
The main villain Syndrome is a brat (likely because when he was a kid his soccer team didn’t keep score) and doesn’t like some people are super. His plan is to make super powers accessible to everyone, because, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”