The touchy-feely police are at it again in Ontario, where the provincial soccer association is eliminating the practice of keeping scores and standings in leagues for players under the age of 12. They're spouting the predictable mealy-mouthed platitudes about fostering fun and self-esteem without the pressure of competition, but the usual arguments against this brand of mollycoddling also apply. Life is a competition, whether it's for a sports championship, a plum job or the heart of the best-looking girl in school. There are winners and losers, we are not defined by one win or one loss, and it's important to learn how to win with honour and humility and lose with grace and dignity.
None of this is lost on the proponents of no-score/no-standings. They acknowledge it. Their spin is that keeping competitive results brings out the worst in parents, whose win-at-all-costs mentality creates undue pressure, inhibits the learning process and takes most or all of the fun out of it. No argument here, but if the problem is with the parents, why shortchange the kids? It would make more sense to have mandatory seminars for parents and implement a no-tolerance policy against abusive and otherwise inappropriate behavior in the stands or on the sidelines. Call me madcap, but that seems to me to be eminently more logical and meritorious than using the immaturity of grownups as a reason to stunt the emotional growth of children.