No more winning in soccer

- October 24th, 2011
bill michalopus soccer

Bill Michalopus, president of Ottawa South United Soccer, is unhappy about Eastern Ontario Soccer Association banning medals and trophies this year because it promotes "winning." (DARREN BROWN/OTTAWA SUN)

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.

Categories: Politics

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11 comments

  1. Eric says:

    It looks like the Flames and Habs have bought in to this. Have you checked their records so far this season?

  2. Marc Opie says:

    Leave it to Lilley to scour the internet to find the most trivial attack on his sensibilities.

    Here’s his argument.

    Ottawa soccer made a bad decision, therefore the Occupy Protestors are bad.

    Grow up people, and stop listening to Lilley’s insanity.

  3. Dave says:

    I wonder if Mikey “Chubby Cheeks” Moore was the fat kid who was always the 1st cut off every team sport he played?

  4. Terry says:

    So you don’t keep score for the kids? Didn’t that horse leave the barn when you taught them to count!

  5. Alain says:

    First of all this is not the role of the federal government, or of any government, which is another reason why governments need to return to their original role and mandate. Secondly competing is a basic part of human and even animal nature, and you cannot wipe it out with government programs, social engineering or legislation. Every game small boys play involves some form of competition. Small girls also compete, although often in a different way. Having raised two boys and two girls I know first hand that nature always wins out.

  6. john s says:

    This is a pretty common rant, but it needs a little refinement. There is still plenty of competitive league play out there in most sports. Most of the sports which are focusing on technique are recreational ones. I for one prefer to have more practices than games in my kids recreational league games. While Mr Lilly and some others might believe that losing hockey games 12 or even 19 to 1 , over and over again builds character, it sure as hell isnt fun for kids. It also tends to discourage kids from sticking with the sport until they get better at it. I put my kids into rec league to learn the game and have fun. WHats the problem with that? After years of watching coaches and parents cheat (literally) , or abuse little kids, or other parents, I am all for recreational leagues where the ‘competition’ is turned down.
    You dont need to bash the liitle tykes into warriors starting at an early age in order to keep them off the streets. This is a bugbear. My kids are all better athletes than i was, they get higher marks than i did and they compete when the want to like the little heroes they are. I have no worries that they will end up begging for money or otherwise failing at the mark. If you teach your kids to be strong and self reliant and to measure up to their responsibilities then they will succeed, whether they were in a competitive sports league or not.
    While I am a fan of Mr. Lilly I must say that this is a rather petty concern. It also is a very simplistic view of children in sports. I think He, and some others i could name ought to get back to covering hard news.

  7. Kermody says:

    Maybe instead of ranting or only providing one side of the story, you should have done some research. The LTAD (Long-Term Athlete Development) is something that is being ADOPTED by sport in Canada, not forced upon sport. This is something that all National sport Organizations are looking at and are deciding amonst their membership how it applies to them through solid research. Visit http://www.cs4l.ca (Canada Sport for Life) or your prefered sport website to see what great strides are occuring. The goal is not to eliminate winning or competition, but to eliminate the focus on winning over skill development. Did anyone else watch our Womens National Soccer team fall apart this past summer. For their entire lives they have been bigger, stronger and faster than their opponents so they won, but put them up against similarly sized players and their lake of skills with the ball shone through. If the team that wins in soccer only knows how to “kick and run” they will only ever win against smaller teams. At a communit soccer level look to the Kanata Soccer organization for some spectacular insights in to this program, there success to date and what they see in the future.

  8. Bev says:

    When I was in junior/senior high I was in track and field. I practised every day in order to beat my previous time and in order to do well at track meets. Please tell me what incentive there would be to better my time if I had to slow down to wait for everyone to cross the finish line with me. Perhaps this is why Canada sucks at the Olympics…

  9. amirlach says:

    Here’s what Europe looks like with no more “Winning”. http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2011/10/26/what_a_one-world_government_looks_like

    Winning and losing prepares children for the Real World. As one who has Coached Amature Boxing for many years i can tell you learn alot more from your losses than you do from your wins.

  10. Greg A says:

    I want to have my kids playing sports for the love of the game, not to become a star player for Canada’s international team (unless they want that.)

    Player development goes far beyond losing and winning. Development includes getting knocked down and getting back up. You dont get that in practices.

    The pansification of our Country is complete.

  11. Marc Opie says:

    @Bev

    Canada set a record for the most Gold medals at the Winter Olympics.

    I hardly think we suck.

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