Participation Ribbons are the New Gold Medal.

I know it is cliché to open up with a quote but not quite as cliché as claiming that everybody is a winner. Youth soccer leagues are contemplating ridding of formal score keeping. This means that Vince Lombardi’s repertoire of inspirational quotes becomes meaningless along with the thrill of watching a spanish soccer game without hearing the announcers wail the word “GOAL!” for a sustained 30 seconds.  Leagues 12 and under  soccer teams will be affected by the lack of score keeping that will be implemented in youth soccer across Canada. These young athletes will never know what it feels like to win or lose or even a dreadful tie. As a child, keeping score and winning was the be all and end all of sport. Soccer has made up a huge part of my life, I have played since the age of 4 and can recall the first goal I scored and remember winning my first game ever. It’s the euphoria you feel when winning that makes sport enjoyable.

“Athletes always risk failure. They risk finding out something that they don’t want to know. Because athletic agon pursues the truth, it often destroys comfortable illusions about ourselves and others. On the other hand, we may discover virtues in ourselves that we never thought we had. But winning is only possible if you are able to risk losing, just as wisdom is only possible is you are able to admit ignorance” – Heather Reid

The notion of keeping score seems to coincide with what it is to be a sport. It is winning and losing that teaches children loosely about who they are, for example, how to accept defeat and how to be a humble victor. With the elimination of score keeping in soccer, children will experience a different feeling at the final whistle than say you or I ever did at the end of a gruesome, well fought 90 minutes. Win or lose you discovered an aspect of yourself that stays with your person.

Monica Mcdonald, the mother of Tessa who plays in a north Toronto soccer league feels the effects of the rule change. She fears that the young athletes will not enter a lusory attitude or a level of motivation that makes sports as intense as they should be. In retrospect, knowing that a sport did not involve a winner or loser would strip the whole appeal of a sport. Attending games is a social gathering, building a camaraderie

Some believe that when you put an overemphasis on competition, individual skill development regresses, and that’s what’s happened in our game for so long. In athletics, the main driving force is to beat the competition.  Heather Reid argues that athletic competition and Socratic philosophy both aim at virtue, at human excellence. Athletic competition is not just physical, but to compete athletically is to struggle for a kind of perfection that encompasses the whole body. I cant help but notice the fact that the use of the word competition is scattered throughout her statement and to be redundant, competition to its core requires a winner and a loser.

This rule is in talks of being implemented to reduced athlete drop-out in youth under 15 years old. Organizations fear young athletes will feel an immense stress to be a winner. The fear of being a loser is sought to be the source of drop-out. It is not the score that makes young athletes feel this way but the coaches, peers and even over enthusiastic parents that taunt other children on the feel for not being an all-star.
Sports played at a young age may be played for instrumental goods but as you grow up it has an intrinsic aspect. Intrinsic good is a something that is not means to something else. It is done for its enjoyment and how it makes the individual feel. How winning makes you ecstatic and losing makes you miserable but for some reason you want to do it all again week after week.
Competition is an innate thing is some athletes. Little league coaches  claim that they  aren’t into the philosophy of not keeping score, because it does matter and anyone who says it doesn’t matter is lying because we know that kids think it matters. The kids are keeping score and rightfully so.  Sports have a prelusory goal, in the case of soccer it is to get the ball passed the goal line and into the opponents net. Without the objective of winning, what is the new prelusory goal? Who can have more fun? This sounds facetious but these prelusory goals become so arbitrary to the sport almost defeating the true meaning of soccer.

I don’t want to live in a world where every child thinks they are a winner. Don’t get me wrong, no child deserves to feel like a loser. Psychologists need to discover an age at which children are able to accept defeat and not be traumatized by its sensation. By the age of 12, a child is intelligent enough to keep score and realize if they are winning or losing so why not keep the score public. It is not the competition in sport that cause children to become bitter with sport and drop out as this rule is set out to do. There are extraneous factors that are the reason for the dropping out of many young athletes.

If you reminisce to your elementary years, could you imagine a recess period without picking up the soccer ball and asking your pal, “hey are you going to keep score?” That question was the proverbial whistle that begun they game. Without that question there would be no recess activity and as an active young adult i attribute my level of health and activity due to my enjoyment of sports that was rooted in the idea of competition, winning or losing and marking down the score on my printed out schedule that was held to the fridge with a magnet that enclosed a picture of myself, classically standing in my timbits uniform with one foot on the ball and a smile larger than the Milky Way.

Supplementary reading:

http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/02/ideological-battles-over-elimination-scorekeeping-youth-soccer

http://www.thestar.com/sports/soccer/2013/02/16/ontario_youth_soccer_to_stop_keeping_score_standings.html

http://blog.sportssignup.com/blog/bid/184962/Is-Playing-a-Game-with-No-Winner-Good-for-Youth-Sports-Programs

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/no-winners-children-still-keeping-score-despite-move-to-end-sports-competition

Supplementary Video:

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