Are we too quick to bubble-wrap our children? (Pixabay photo)

Wolf: Keeping score is part of life

Fun is always paramount in youth sports - but winning and losing provide valuable lessons

Headline this week: ‘Kids hockey should be about fun, not scores: minor hockey groups

Exactly what’s so wrong with keeping score?

From the files of our never-ending quest to bubble-wrap our children, protecting them from all that is negative and scary, comes the latest tale of trying to make sure no one ever feels bad about anything.

Seems a minor hockey squad (eight-year-olds) in Ontario managed to eke out a 41-0 win over a rival team in recent action. Interestingly, though officials involved said there weren’t a barrage of complaints, the news of such horror quickly spawned the usual array of examples of groups working to ensure losing big isn’t a thing.

Perhaps I’m a tad curmudgeonly here, because the notion of fun being paramount in any sport remains sacred, especially for the kids. But on many levels, sports also offer a remarkable chance for kids to learn about life.

Part of life is learning to deal with failure — or defeat.

We seem determined to forget that (and not just in sport) a lot more these days.

This incident reminds me of a news story a few years ago about a children’s soccer league (up to age 18) that instituted a rule that said any team that got ahead by more than five goals would lose by default.

Say what?

If delicate little Billy’s team is losing 6-1 and an unsportsmanlike cad on the other team happens to score one more, they lose.

C’mon.

When I was a sports-mad lad, I hated to lose. My Little League baseball team went 59-0-1 in three years and decades later, I’m still bitter about the tie. Even playing my sister at tiddlywinks was high-stakes competition.

In any sport, I was always taught to play as hard as you could, all the time. If the result was too overwhelming for the other team, too bad.

If you did your best and still lost, that wasn’t the end of the world either. I remember in school a visiting British rugby side came for an exhibition and beat us by about 70 points.

Did we wilt and cry and feel bad about ourselves? No. It made us realize just how much work had to be done to get better.

Our coach told us there was no shame in losing, to hold our heads up and keep working and maybe one day we’d be that good.

I played on soccer teams that won 32-0. Hockey teams that lost 14-1. Powerful teams winning tournaments was seen as a positive, not ‘oh, no, is there some way to divide up the teams so everyone’s equal?’

Now, I get that many arguments that begin with ‘well, that was the way they did it when I was a kid, and I turned out OK’ can ring hollow. We must evolve. But it seems more and more that we must coddle our little ones and not ever let them lose a game or fail a test or deal with hardship of any sort. In turn, we can reasonably expect a host of youngsters who believe the world owes them a living.

Life isn’t always fair. There are winners and there are losers. Learning to deal with those situations at a young age isn’t going to harm anyone. And even if you tell them you’re not keeping score, many of them will be keeping it in their heads anyway.

I still coach kids baseball. My approach will always be it’s all about fun and learning how to play the game. Get out there and get after it and we’ll worry about the result later. But if it reached a point at a ‘keep score’ level where it was a tight game in the last inning, then everyone might be told “we need two runs” or “we can’t give up more than one” so they can get a taste of how to react in a more competitive situation.

Get excited when you win, try to figure out what you can do better if you lose. Little kids whose team loses a blowout game won’t be permanently scarred, they’ll still just want to go to Dairy Queen.

Trying to teach them it’s not OK to excel or that changes will always be made to protect them from big losses might not always be the best course of action.

VIFD editor Philip Wolf can be reached at philip.wolf@blackpress.ca or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey-based pen-pal program aims to reduce seniors’ isolation during pandemic

South Surrey/White Rock concierge service to connects kids & seniors virtually

Surrey city council moving to virtual meetings

For public hearings, people can register to speak via telephone

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

APRIL 4: Two people in Delta fined for trying to re-sell N95 masks

Surrey veteran feels pinch from COVID-19 after cancelled surgery

Caught between two countries, and low income, soldier feels he’s been forgotten

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

B.C. community service provider hosts friendly art competition for youth

Theme for Pacific Community Resources contest is ‘finding the silver lining in difficult times’

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

TransLink to reduce service on some bus routes, SeaBus, West Coast Express

Changes start April 6 ‘due to low ridership and financial pressures’ amid COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read

l -->