September means back to school--and for many communities, the start of the fall soccer season. Like thousands of other youth sports programs across America, my kids' soccer league has decided that competition is psychologically damaging to children. In addition to causing hurt feelings, losing a pee-wee soccer match makes some kids (gasp!) cry. In order to prevent such horrific atrocities from taking place, the league's new policy is "Everybody Wins."
Evidently, emptying goalie nets and throwing out score cards promotes good sportsmanship and builds self-esteem. So does treating the terms "winner" and "loser" as if they are four-letter words.
This is a nice thought--but one that is horribly misguided. Losing a game, getting shut out, and coming in dead last rarely gives anyone the warm fuzzies, but that doesn't mean that getting one's butt kicked once in a while isn't good for us--and our kids. Among other things, losing teaches children how to handle adversity and disappointment--a skill that will serve them well in adulthood.
"But there is way too much emphasis on winning and losing in today's society," you whine.
Maybe so--but we aren't doing our kids any favors when we teach them that there is no value in competition, or misleading them into thinking that there isn't any. Like it or not, we live in a capitalist society, and with that comes the reality that hierarchies exist and that we aren't always at the top of them.
The sooner that kids learn about the highs and lows of life, the quicker they grasp two fundamental truths: namely, that winning isn't everything, and that losing a soccer game does not make them a loser.
|Jana Mathews is the mother of "four under five" and the author of The Meanest Mom blog.|