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OPINION: Keeping Score

For millions of Canadian sports fans there is nothing more thrilling than World Cup Soccer. But one particular group of soccer moms and dads thinks a slight change in the format would mean more fun for everyone.
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For millions of Canadian sports fans there is nothing more thrilling than World Cup Soccer.  But one particular group of soccer moms and dads thinks a slight change in the format would mean more fun for everyone.


The Ontario Soccer Association would like to eliminate score-keeping. Of course no scores would also mean no standings, no statistics, no trophies, no winners and no losers – just lots and lots of freedom and fun.

They would like to eliminate competition from competitive sport and turn the soccer pitch into an even playing field where those with less natural athletic talent can play like gifted athletes.

If nobody keeps score, all the pressure will be off and goals will not be important at all.  Everybody will be free to develop their skills and have barrels of fun.

Imagine taking your child, not to a tournament, but to a soccer festival where games are played but no score is kept.  Winning or losing is unimportant. This isn’t the World Cup.

Besides, the association claims that younger kids don’t really care whether they win or lose.  They are happy to develop their skills and suppress their goals.  Who cares if anybody scores?

Well it seems that the kids do care, a lot, about scorekeeping.  During score-free games the players keep track for themselves and shout it out to their teammates on the pitch.

One coach boasted that his under-eight girls team had won the soccer “festival” based on 4-0 victories in both their games.  According to his stats no other team even came close.

His players were still well aware of winners and losers. For their part, the girls were quite happy with the results. They love to win.  Everybody does. 

Still, there is a group of determined individuals who would eliminate winning and losing from little league soccer. 

No thrill of victory or agony of defeat for their team.

This is an odd thing to be teaching our kids – that neither winning nor losing is acceptable.  But that’s not all.

There is another unusual message being delivered to our young people in schools all across the country – that they are protected from failure.

The Edmonton Board of Education recently fired a teacher who gave students a mark of zero for work not handed in or tests not taken.  Board policy states that zeroes must never be awarded. 

Somebody’s feelings might be hurt.

A huge public outcry caused the board to suspend its misguided policy.

The offending teacher was quickly hired by a private school which recognized his passion for teaching and extensive experience.

This is one example of a trend in education that has been labeled “coddling our kids.” 

Many parents are willing to intervene to win their child an advantage, unfair or otherwise.

Some children are simply not allowed to fail.  They don’t have to complete their assignments on time. 

Low marks and failing grades are not accepted.  Mom and dad will fix everything. 

It’s little wonder that young people these days have a lot of emotional issues. 

On one hand they are being taught that they can never win or lose.  At the same time they will not be allowed to fail.

It is hard to imagine that our children and grandchildren will live in a world where the ability to compete is not an advantage and where nobody keeps score and nobody ever wins, loses or fails. 

And it is hard to accept that they will spend their lives just like Teddy Roosevelt described over 100 years ago as, “those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”