Monday, March 18, 2013

Giving kids back the game

I usually don't go on tangents about serious topics, but today I just need to let it out. I apologize beforehand if this gets long, I'll try to keep this as short as possible.

Dawson had his first soccer game of the season yesterday. He's playing in a Recreational U7 (6 & 7 yrs olds, for those who don't know) league. It's a league for fun, meant for kids to figure out if they like the sport. David is coaching the team and the coaches are told a few key things. They aren't supposed to teach positions or strategies, they are supposed to focus on ball handling, dribbling, passing, the basics. Score isn't kept. There is no winners and no losers. Just. For. Fun.

If you've never seen 7 yr olds play, this is what it looks like. 
A swarm of adorably enthusiastic kids attacking a soccer ball. 8 little pairs of feet all going for the same thing, even if it's against your own teammates. 

The game went great. The kids had fun. After an hr of nothing but running they were exhausted, but they all had huge smiles on their faces. 

Afterwards Dawson saw one of his classmates that was on another team. We went over to say Hi and the Mom mentioned another team and how tough they were. She said "they were ummm...established."

David and I were talking about this and he told me the "established" team is actually a "stacked" team. The coach scouts out players from other teams the year before and works with the Soccer club to put the children he wants on his team. This team is basically unstoppable. They haven't "lost" (remember the whole no score kept thing?) a game and they basically blow all other teams out of the water.  

Does anyone else see the problem with this?

These kids are supposed to be having fun. They aren't supposed to worry about winning and losing, but they are still aware when a team is kicking their butt. They will still drop their shoulders in defeat when they walk off a field where they have been scored on dozens of times by a team filled with the best players. 

At the ages of 12 or 13, yes, I expect a team to be filled with the best players. Which is why they have try outs. You are tested for your abilities and you are moved to the teams you deserve to be on with hopes that your team will be the best. At the age of 7, 8, 9? No, you shouldn't be expected to be the winning team every game.

I'm honestly saddened by this. 

I'm disappointed that the soccer league allows a man to come in and make a team to defeat all other teams in a U7 league. They stress that this is a fun league. They tell all coaches that they aren't supposed to worry about being winners or losers, but they will let a coach make sure his team is always the winning team.

I'm disappointed that there is a coach out there that is so determined to be the best that he will knowingly and purposely stack a team to defeat all others. That this man can look at all these little boys, these 6 & 7 yr old boys, and have no care that he is doing whatever he can to defeat them week after week, in a Rec. league.

Obviously we all want to see our kids be winners. We want them on a winning team. We want to have that pride and brag about it. But do we want them on a winning team for them or ourselves? If our small children win a sports game, who makes a bigger deal out of it. Us or them? 

At this age, kids just want to play. Most of them don't make a big deal out of winning or losing. They want to get out there and run, kick a ball, act crazy. They get off the field and they are more worried about the snacks and juice boxes they get at the end of each game.

I think as parents of young children we need to realize that this game isn't for us. This is about the kids and them having fun. It's time to relax, enjoy the lack of competition while we can. Enjoy those smiles, those care free times when they don't care if they win or lose. 

I think it's time we give sports back to our children. Don't you agree?


1 comment:

  1. Our recreational teams use to be like that until they got a new manager. If he wants an unstoppable team then he needs to find a different division. Outside of the recreational sports in my town they have leagues like that where the more "established" kids can play. That coach should be ashamed of himself.


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