Are we too quick to bubble-wrap our children? (Pixabay photo)

Wolf: Keeping score is part of life

Fun is always paramount in youth sports - but winning and losing provide valuable lessons

Headline this week: ‘Kids hockey should be about fun, not scores: minor hockey groups

Exactly what’s so wrong with keeping score?

From the files of our never-ending quest to bubble-wrap our children, protecting them from all that is negative and scary, comes the latest tale of trying to make sure no one ever feels bad about anything.

Seems a minor hockey squad (eight-year-olds) in Ontario managed to eke out a 41-0 win over a rival team in recent action. Interestingly, though officials involved said there weren’t a barrage of complaints, the news of such horror quickly spawned the usual array of examples of groups working to ensure losing big isn’t a thing.

Perhaps I’m a tad curmudgeonly here, because the notion of fun being paramount in any sport remains sacred, especially for the kids. But on many levels, sports also offer a remarkable chance for kids to learn about life.

Part of life is learning to deal with failure — or defeat.

We seem determined to forget that (and not just in sport) a lot more these days.

This incident reminds me of a news story a few years ago about a children’s soccer league (up to age 18) that instituted a rule that said any team that got ahead by more than five goals would lose by default.

Say what?

If delicate little Billy’s team is losing 6-1 and an unsportsmanlike cad on the other team happens to score one more, they lose.

C’mon.

When I was a sports-mad lad, I hated to lose. My Little League baseball team went 59-0-1 in three years and decades later, I’m still bitter about the tie. Even playing my sister at tiddlywinks was high-stakes competition.

In any sport, I was always taught to play as hard as you could, all the time. If the result was too overwhelming for the other team, too bad.

If you did your best and still lost, that wasn’t the end of the world either. I remember in school a visiting British rugby side came for an exhibition and beat us by about 70 points.

Did we wilt and cry and feel bad about ourselves? No. It made us realize just how much work had to be done to get better.

Our coach told us there was no shame in losing, to hold our heads up and keep working and maybe one day we’d be that good.

I played on soccer teams that won 32-0. Hockey teams that lost 14-1. Powerful teams winning tournaments was seen as a positive, not ‘oh, no, is there some way to divide up the teams so everyone’s equal?’

Now, I get that many arguments that begin with ‘well, that was the way they did it when I was a kid, and I turned out OK’ can ring hollow. We must evolve. But it seems more and more that we must coddle our little ones and not ever let them lose a game or fail a test or deal with hardship of any sort. In turn, we can reasonably expect a host of youngsters who believe the world owes them a living.

Life isn’t always fair. There are winners and there are losers. Learning to deal with those situations at a young age isn’t going to harm anyone. And even if you tell them you’re not keeping score, many of them will be keeping it in their heads anyway.

I still coach kids baseball. My approach will always be it’s all about fun and learning how to play the game. Get out there and get after it and we’ll worry about the result later. But if it reached a point at a ‘keep score’ level where it was a tight game in the last inning, then everyone might be told “we need two runs” or “we can’t give up more than one” so they can get a taste of how to react in a more competitive situation.

Get excited when you win, try to figure out what you can do better if you lose. Little kids whose team loses a blowout game won’t be permanently scarred, they’ll still just want to go to Dairy Queen.

Trying to teach them it’s not OK to excel or that changes will always be made to protect them from big losses might not always be the best course of action.

VIFD editor Philip Wolf can be reached at philip.wolf@blackpress.ca or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Way too many Surrey COVID-19 cases

We all need to take this threat seriously

Horgan says Surrey mayor opened ‘hornets’ nest’ with Surrey policing transition

Surrey election battle heating up over Doug McCallum’s controversial cop transition

Semiahmoo Bottle Depot part of hybrid-electic compaction truck pilot program

Return-It launches program at 16 B.C. bottle depots with aim to reduce emissions

Horgan lambastes Liberal health record in Surrey

BCNDP leader attacks Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount

OPINION: It’s Time for Surrey to be Heard

Which party will listen to Surrey voters?

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

Most Read