Friday, June 4, 2010

Discouraging blowouts . . . really?

For someone who doesn't follow sports or even care that much about them, I'm surprising myself by having a third post in a row about sports. But Come. On. People.

I read this article this morning. It's short, go read it if you're interested, and I'll be here when you get back. Otherwise, the gist of the story is this: The Ottawa children's soccer league has introduced a new rule (which it claims is merely a reinforcement of an old rule) that is intended to discourage blowouts. Any team that wins by more than five goals loses. Then any team that loses all of its games wins the championship.

I get that people don't want to see their kids lose a game 0-16. I don't want to see that either. But, hey, that's how life goes. Sometimes you kick butt. Sometimes you get yours kicked. And it hurts. And you suck it up and move on. It's a lesson better learned at 10 than at 20. At least your parents are there to hug you and cheer you on when you're still living at home. If you're 20 and you realize, "Holy cow, I just got creamed on that exam. I had no idea the professor wouldn't grade on a curve. My soccer league did!" . . . then guess who might be moving back home for that hug?

Does losing take the fun out of the game? A little. And getting pummeled takes out even more of that fun. But is losing 0-5 really that much better than losing 0-16, especially if you know the other team could have added 11 more points to its score if the rules had allowed for it?

I read a number of years back that teachers are now being advised to stop using red pens to correct student papers. Red is scary. It hurts the kids' feelings. But apparently we're to understand that getting a bad grade in blue or green or some other "soothing" shade is less hurtful: "I know I failed the test, Dad, but look! . . . I failed it in PURPLE. So it's all right. Now let's go play some soccer, but you have to play blindfolded and with your left leg tied behind you so I can win, okay? Otherwise, you might damage my psyche."

And in other breaking news: Up is down. Front is back. And wrong is right. Yay for the power to change our perception of the world even if we've given up on changing the world itself.

Here's what I'm trying to teach my kids, and I bet most of you are, too: It's okay to lose. It's okay to be wrong. And then it's really okay to learn from the losses and mistakes. It's how we get better. It's how our kids get better.

Stop trying to take the right to grow away from them. Just . . . stop.


Ron said...

great post... can you guess which paragraph was my favorite?

Bobbie said...

The one mentioning an exam and the professor not grading on a curve??

Mendy said...

I remember that red pen article and it made me roll my eyes. Really? We can't handle red pen? A lot of this stuff (kindergarten graduation, everybody gets trophies, etc) reminds me I should have been born in the 50s when it was okay to actively toughen up your kids. I find myself alone in my mean mom camp often - the other moms driving their kids to the bus stop one block away. My poor kid has to walk. Every day. In the snow. And the rain. He's like the postal service.
So yeah, this is ridiculous. You should check out the free range parenting blog. I often find myself agreeing with her. Or wishing I could be as tough as her.

Bobbie said...

When my kids are sick, I keep them in quarantine. I only allow video games on Fridays and Saturdays )and even then they're very limited). I make them do their homework before they go out and play. I'm apparently all sorts of terrible to them. So you can count me in on your mean mom camp. I haven't heard of that blog, but I'll have to check it out. I know I'm softer on my kids than is really good for them (although harder than most parents these days). It's a matter, for me, of finding the right times to be hard and the right times to be soft. School though? Not a time to be soft. At all.

Brigid Kemmerer said...

This is a great post. (And I love the new blog layout, by the way.)