Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are soccer skills more important than life skills?! Ontario minor soccer thinks so!

Posted by Mitch Zeltzer

Growing up playing various sports taught me athletic skills, coordination, sports knowledge, the value of healthy lifestyle, commitment/loyalty, and the importance of practice.  Possibly more importantly though, it taught me about team spirit, good sportsmanship, what it takes to rise to the top and be the best, respecting the game, how to win graciously, and one of the more difficult lessons - how to accept losses.

It was recently announced that Ontario minor soccer is going to stop keeping score and standings for leagues of players 13 years old and younger.  In this article, people who were involved in the decision making or the implementation of this new philosophy seem to be missing the point.  They keep talking about soccer skill development as though that is the only reason parents are encouraging their children to participate in team sports like soccer.

Sure, I grew up dreaming of becoming the next Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, etc.  But we need to acknowlege the reality of the role sports should play in a child's life.  According to some sources less than 2% of high school athletes continue to play their respective sports in college, and the odds of going pro are event worse, with only 0.0008% of athletes making the big leagues (and the odds could be even worse depending on the sport you are going after!)

So knowing this, how could it make sense to sacrifice lessons of healthy competition and sportsmanship for more soccer skill development?  If every youth league followed suit, how are Ontario's youth going to learn how to deal with compitition appropriately?  How are they going to learn to become gracious winners and how to accept losses?  Competition is part of life, and like any other skills, in order to develop it, we must have the opportunity to practice it starting at a young age.

In my humble opinion, this is a step in the wrong direction.  What are your thoughts?