Ottawa league’s blowout rule: Making soccer more communist?
My Twitter was a-blowin’ up today over a soccer league that is contributing to what is often called the pussification of sports by declaring any team that wins by five or more goals has won by too much, and therefore has officially lost. From what I saw on the ol’ Twitter, the edict from the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer League is infecting America with sports communism, Trotsky and Lenin and no-score leagues and pitch counts and moms as coaches. (No matter that this league is in Canada — close enough!)
When the he-man world discovers the latest threat to youth sports as they should be — a combination of yelling, Social Darwinism and the occasional wedgie — the Internet pattern goes like this:
1. Someone writes a story, full of quotes from perturbed parents and tight-assed sounding league officials. In this example, the National Post in Toronto.
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.”
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, regardless 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.
2. The story gets posted on the likes of Fark and Deadspin, followed by lots of snarky comments, some of which rail about pussification, and some of which just make smart-aleck jokes.
3. The presence of the story on the likes of Fark and Deadspin gets people a-Twitterin’.
4. That’s where I come in to float above it all and tell you what to REALLY think.
So here we are at step No. 4.
As usual, what the Gloucester Dragons league did was a well-meaning combination of thoughtful and stupid. As the league name says, it’s a recreational league, i.e., for fun. There’s no better way to drive away players who are there for the fun of it by putting them on a team that consistently gets their ass kicked. Hey, we’re playing for fun, but we’re still keeping score, and it’s not a lot of fun to get your ass kicked.
The league has the right idea by having a tryout camp to try to ensure teams are equal. But to tell teams that, in the interim, winning by a lot means that they’ll actually lose — it’s not communism, but it is dumb. It’s insulting to have teams fart around for the sake of increasing the margin to six. There are a lot of ways to stop a blowout: slaughter rule (ending the game when the margin is too high), having the leading team play with fewer players, a running clock. Not telling the winning team they’ll actually lose.
If having a blowout is that worrisome, just don’t keep score. As you can see by the National Post story, the whole idea of blowout prevention came from parents. The great upset about blowout prevention is coming from parents. Well, some kids, too. But like in my 7-year-old son’s no-score baseball league, if the kids want to keep track, that’s fine. The reason for no-score leagues is so parents won’t lose their shit over a game.
It’s not pussification. It’s parent pacification.