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October 27th, 2011:

Really? Seriously?

Medals are bad? Athletic competition is bad? Really? From what I’ve seen, competitive athletics encourages excellence, teamwork, and effort.

But this is apparently now verboten.

And don’t even think about medals and trophies!

And I’m not speaking as some sideline soccer Dad. I coached youth soccer in Nepean and Gloucester for about ten years. I’m certified. I’ve run countless practices and drills and have coached scores of games. I know what I’m talking about.

And yes, medals and trophies are expected.

The awarding of medals at the end of the season is an annual tradition for soccer clubs in the city, just as it is for hockey, baseball, and I would guess most organized sports. The medals are normally awarded at a team’s annual banquet.

And this is what the folks at Ottawa South United (the City’s largest soccer league) expected to pick up when a rep dropped by the offices of the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association (EODSA). But….

The district office told Ottawa South that there were no medals and there wouldn’t be in the future because medals promote competition.

Thinking this was a mistake the Ottawa South looked to clarify via email. Here is what they received back.

“The EODSA league will not be giving out medals. The decision was ratified by the EODSA board at its September 1 meeting. As you know we have reduced fees in the league to $200.00 per team this season, in addition the presentation of medals is considered to emphasize winning versus player development, which is the new focus of OSA programs.”

Skill development is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But skills can be talk in a competitive environment. And it is this combination that beings out the best in most if not all players.

So my reaction is somewhat predictable : screw your head back on the right way. EODSA!

BUT, as it turns out, this goes deeper than soccer. Brian Lilley (which I have NEVER EVER referenced until now – our politics are a little different and he writes for those Sun reactionaries..) points out the following in his blog:

This move towards eliminating competition goes well beyond soccer and is moving into all children’s activities and it’s backed by the federal government. Specifically Sports Canada, part of the Heritage Department headed up by James Moore.

The Long Term Athlete Development program is being pushed by the feds and national and provincial sports bodies onto leagues that belong to any kind of organized structure.

It has looked at the real problem of some parents and coaches putting too much emphasis on winning and not enough on teaching the fundamentals of a sport and decided to throw the baby out with the bath water.

They are mandating that children’s sports leagues follow a new regimen that drops competition at the youngest ages and focuses on practicing rather than playing a game.

According to the program, there should be no competition, meaning no real, organized active games in team sports until age 8 for girls and age 9 for boys. Even after that age the ratio of practices to games is ridiculous. The recommendation is 7 practices for every 3 games played.

After age 12, you can have 3 practices for every 2 games.

Yeah, I saw parents get carried away – even in the rec leagues that I coached in… but is this not going way too far? Kids want to know what the score was. They want to have  winner and a loser (oops, sorry, “almost-winner”).  I have seen this first hand!

Sigh. So, when can we expect Mr. Pendulum to swing back to a more sane position? Soon, I hope.