Last winter it was Winnipeg’s turn to feel the heat when a local story in the Winnipeg Sun about a lack of scoring and competition in kid’s soccer went national.
Now, it is Ottawa’s turn.
A column by Sun writer Ron Corbett tells the story of Bill Michalopulos from the Ottawa South United soccer club. Bill runs the club, a massive organization with 6,300 members at all levels of play.
Bill and his colleagues were shocked when they dropped by the offices of the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association to pick up medals for their winning teams. A number of United’s teams had won their divisions and that normally means they get a medal given out at the end of year banquet.
Not this year.
The district office told Ottawa South that there were no medals and there wouldn’t be in the future because medals promote competition.
Thinking this was a mistake the Ottawa South looked to clarify via email. Here is what they received back.
“The EODSA league will not be giving out medals. The decision was ratified by the EODSA board at its September 1 meeting. As you know we have reduced fees in the league to $200.00 per team this season, in addition the presentation of medals is considered to emphasize winning versus player development, which is the new focus of OSA programs.”
I’d hang my head in shame at this point if this were just about soccer, a game I have played all my life but it is not. So all of you folks who like to claim that soccer is a wimp sport and that of course those wimps wouldn’t keep score….well, you just hold that for a moment.
This move towards eliminating competition goes well beyond soccer and is moving into all children’s activities and it’s backed by the federal government. Specifically Sports Canada, part of the Heritage Department headed up by James Moore.
The Long Term Athlete Development program is being pushed by the feds and national and provincial sports bodies onto leagues that belong to any kind of organized structure.
It has looked at the real problem of some parents and coaches putting too much emphasis on winning and not enough on teaching the fundamentals of a sport and decided to throw the baby out with the bath water.
They are mandating that children’s sports leagues follow a new regimen that drops competition at the youngest ages and focuses on practicing rather than playing a game.
According to the program, there should be no competition, meaning no real, organized active games in team sports until age 8 for girls and age 9 for boys. Even after that age the ratio of practices to games is ridiculous. The recommendation is 7 practices for every 3 games played.
After age 12, you can have 3 practices for every 2 games.
There is also a push to drop standings and awards for excellence.
We don’t want little Timmy’s team feeling bad for being in third place now do we?
Our society has been trying to diminish winning for a long time. First it was through “participation trophies” – that was the give every kid a trophy movement. Except that the winning team still got a big trophy. Now we are going the opposite direction – no one gets a trophy.
In my time playing kids t-ball, soccer and hockey I was on a winning teams, I was on mediocre teams and I was on some real stinkers as well.
In all instances you learn and develop character. You learn how to win graciously and you learn how to lose graciously.
You learn that it takes teamwork to win and that everyone has to do their part.
Turns out the experts think this is the wrong way to go. We shouldn’t teach those lessons until children are 12 or so.
Of course it was the experts who gave us the eugenics movement, thalidomide, whole word reading and long hockey pants.
I think I’m safe in saying we should ignore the experts on this one.
And that’s the Byline.