Can you imagine sport without winners and losers? That’s exactly what’s about to happen to junior AFL. Admirable or unAustralian?
Today it was announced that the AFL is introducing nation-wide changes to their junior code and that, under the new rules, in most under-10 games there will be no:
* Playing to win
* Match results
* Best and fairest awards
In effect, they are removing competition from kids’ sport.
Is that a great idea, or mollycoddling gone mad? Two iVillage mums go head to head:
AGAINST - Competition is healthy.
The changes to the AFL under-10 games are just ridiculous. Thank goodness we're a soccer family!
The outdoor soccer season starts this weekend and IT IS ON! Philip has played for the past four years since Kindy and Giovanni is playing for the first time.
It's going to be great. Both my boys, with that Italian blood flowing through their veins, are going to be star performers. I just know it. And there I'll be, on the sidelines, vocal in my support, praying for a win.
Competition is good for kids. Competition is what drives them to improve, to succeed. The suggestion that children's sports no longer keep score is ridiculous. Talk about killing all the fun.
When Philip first started playing outdoor soccer he was a terrible player and his team never won a game. It was a difficult first two years of competition for him, but formative. Today he is focused, driven, wanting to learn and improve and succeed. The experience of loss devastated him and embarrassed him but I kept on telling to have fun, enjoy the game, learn from it, experience it. I used to yell from the sidelines, "Shake it off, keep going, don't give up, have another go".
In the car on the way home I'd tell him not to worry, that one day, he'd score his first goal, save his first goal, win his first game and it would be amazing. Then, he'd understand why we hang in there, even if we aren't winning.
Can you get a better life lesson than that?
Teaching our children to love sport is half the battle, the rest is teaching them to love it even if it doesn't go their way. Trust me, the resilience they learn will help them for the rest of their lives. They'll learn what if feels like to win, to lose and to aspire to be better, to be great.
And let me tell you, that first day that Philip scored a goal is goes down as one of the best days of our lives. For him it was pure joy and elation. For me it was pure joy and pride.