i love when npr covers sports. it’s kind of fun to get a non-meathead-type perspective on sports from time to time (whenever i can tear myself away from sportscenter). they had a piece the other day about a new rule for high school football in connecticut. the rule basically states that if the margin of victory in a game is more than fifty points, then the coach of the winning team will be suspended for the following game – presumably for displaying unsportsmanlike conduct for running up the score on a weaker opponent.
i’m not sure that legislating sportsmanship will actually teach it – but, given the current climate of youth sports in america today, it’s probably good that people are at least thinking about it. after all, you’ve got “adults” who are bribing their own players to bean a disabled teammate, intentionally walking a player in a pony league baseball championship game in order to get to the next player – a nine-year old brain cancer survivor, and rushing the field to assault a 13-year old during a football game. all of these incidents involved adults who were supposed to be coaching the teams.
regarding the connecticut football mercy rule, i’ve heard people argue that losing develops character, that kids should learn to take the good with the bad, that life isn’t always fair, etc. and i agree to a certain extent. however, while these are important life lessons (like this important life lesson from tlc displayed on the left side, “the all you can eat buffet is not a challenge”), i think it’s also important for the adults involved in these sports to maintain some perspective. namely, that no matter how seriously folks around town take their football, baseball, etc., that these are still games. sure, kids need to learn that losing is a part of life, but they also need to hear – and see – that winning isn’t everything.
certainly, a level of competition can make a game more fun. i don’t think a game of kickball would be much fun without keeping score (although it might be – you never know!) but i’m not sure i’d want my daughter playing on a team where the coach took the game too seriously.