“You compete to win the game,” former NFL head coach Herm Edwards stated famously.
There’s a lot of evidence to back that up. Isn’t victory the desirable outcome in each game you play, whether it’s chess, a summer lacrosse practice, or the Fiesta Bowl? That is why we play games in the first place: to succeed.
Sports, on the other hand, should be enjoyable, and sports are not really practiced in a desert. The odds of winning a championship battle vs a casual board game are vastly different. At the pro level, undoubtedly, victory is the most essential thing, because players get paid to accomplish just that.
What about youth sports, though? Should victory be the most essential factor for young football players who are learning a difficult sport? Should victory be the most essential factor for young soccer players who are just having fun and hanging out with their buddies? Should baseball players who are merely playing for the passion for the game, place an emphasis on winning?
Yes, everybody likes to win, but games don’t have to be about wins and losses for young players. Nonetheless, an increasing number of coaches and younger players are making winning their main aim, neglecting growth, justice, and pleasure in the process. And that’s where kid’s sports go wrong.
Youth sports provide opportunities for children to have fun, socialize, acquire new skills such as teamwork, develop character, keep active, and discover their individuality. Does it imply the youngster who wears jeans and sneakers to basketball practice will never make it to the NBA? Does that imply they must stay on the bench for all but three minutes of a youth cup match?
Essentially, any outstanding middle school athlete’s prospects of becoming a professional athlete are minimal to nothing. Certainly, you want to maximize playing time for your top players, but kid sports are also about having fun, being sociable, and experimenting. Victory should be of secondary importance; everybody should have an opportunity to compete.
That isn’t to say that victory isn’t essential; there are advantages to winning at any stage. Winning instills confidence in children, which aids their development as sportsmen and individuals. It’s a great notion when there are no victors or losers in a game because the participants are generally 6 years old; but, as the kids grow older, they must discover not everybody succeeds all of the time – an essential lesson imparted via young sports that is frequently ignored.
When less-skilled athletes are kept on the benches, they are losing out on much more than simply the opportunity to play a match. And who knows what could happen? Those “second stringers” could grow into stronger players in the long run than anyone expected with a little more playing experience and confidence.
Winning is certainly more enjoyable, but the difference between victory and defeat should mean less as your players get younger. Youth sports are supposed to be a pleasant way for kids to acquire new skills.
Winning is essential, but it is not a life or death situation.