Turning Winners into Losers

Posted on June 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I’ve long believed that some took the 1980’s children’s self-esteem movement too far. And I’ve just been validated.

In youth sports, I agree with the mercy rule, whereby the winner is declared when the winning team is so many points ahead of the losing team. But, I never agreed with the school philosophies that refused to keep score so that no one team would win, while another lost.

But, a Canadian soccer league has taken the self-esteem movement to new heights, reopening my eyes to the damage that a good idea over-implemented can cause. The National Post printed an article that announces a new rule for 4 to 18 year olds, stating that any team who wins by more than five points loses. Literally, if a team is up by 6 points, they are automatically declared the loser of the match and the win belongs to the loser.  This rule replaces their former five run mercy rule.

By overprotecting the self-esteem of one group, the league has decided to lower the self esteem of those who play well. What’s wrong with the mercy rule? Why did it have to be changed to such an extreme that winners became losers?  Since when do we reward those who underperform or come in second by penalizing those who played their best?

In my opinion, turning winners into losers discourages children from trying. When you reward the losing team by giving them the winning team’s trophy, you’re teaching them that they don’t have to try. When you punish the winning team by making them relinquish their title, you teach them that trying too hard is a bad thing.

Competition can be healthy and a positive part of growing up. It can make our kids stronger and more motivated. It can also teach them that losing isn’t always bad and winning isn’t always easy. It’s time we stop discouraging our children to do their personal best by giving them a trophy that wasn’t earned. Someday they’re going to grow up and not know how to lose or win gracefully. Someday, they’re not going to know how to compete in the real world.

There are other ways to raise a child’s self-esteem. Lowering expectations is not one of them.

What’s your opinion?

Link to article on National Post:  http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/06/01/win-a-soccer-game-by-more-than-five-points-and-you-lose-ottawa-league-says/?preview=true&preview_id=7652&preview_nonce=e6fa056a34

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