Canada: Socialist Soccer
Win a soccer game by more than five points and you lose – welcome to socialism 101 where no one is allowed to excel above another person.
In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.
The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.
Kevin Cappon said he first heard about the rule on May 20 — right after he had scored his team’s last allowable goal. His team then tossed the ball around for fear of losing the game.
He said if anything, the league’s new rule will coddle sore losers.
“They should be saying anything is possible. If we can get five goals really fast, well, so can the other team,” said Kevin, 17, who has played in the league for five years. “People grow in adversity, they don’t really get worse…. I think you’ll see more leadership skills being used if a losing team tries to recuperate than if they never got into that situation at all.”
Kevin’s father, Bruce Cappon, called the rule ludicrous.
“I couldn’t find anywhere in the world, even in a communist country, where that rule is enforced,” he said.
Mr. Cappon said the organization is trying to “reinvent the wheel” by fostering a non-competitive environment. The league has 3,000 children enrolled ranging in age from four to 18 years old.
“Everybody wants a close game, nobody wants blowouts, but we don’t want to go by those farcical rules that they come up with,” he said. “Heaven forbid when these kids get into the real world. They won’t be prepared to deal with the competition out there.”
Paul Cholmsky, whose four- and six-year-old boys play in the league, said the intended goal of a default-lose rule might backfire in teaching life skills.
“If there’s one team that’s consistenly dominant and one team that’s not, well, that’s life,” he said.
Mr. Cholmsky said he would be in favour of temporarily handicapping a team, for example reducing the number of players on the field, over ensuring a team loss for a high score differential.
According to the league’s new rules, coaches of stronger teams are encouraged to deter runaway games by rotating players out of their usual positions, ensuring players pass the ball around, asking players to kick with the weaker foot, taking players off the field and encouraging players to score from farther away.
Club director Sean Cale said he is disappointed a few parents are making the new soccer rule overshadow the community involvement and organizing the Gloucester club does.
“The registration fee, rergardless of the sport, does not give a parent the right to insult or belittle the organization,” he said. “It gives you a uniform, it gives you a team.”
Mr. Cale said the league’s 12-person board of directors is not trying to take the fun out of the game, they are simply trying to make it fair. The new rule, suggested by “involved parents,” is a temporary measure that will be replaced by a pre-season skill assessment to make fair teams.
“The board is completely volunteer-run and we do the best that we can to provide a good, clean, fun soccer experience for everyone,” he said.
Although parents are fuming, he said the commotion is coming from “about 1% of the parents.”