The wise heads at the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league have decided to stamp out all the evils of competitive soccer once and for all:
In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.
The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.
Kevin Cappon said he first heard about the rule on May 20 — right after he had scored his team’s last allowable goal. His team then tossed the ball around for fear of losing the game.
I coached children’s soccer for more than a decade, and my teams sometimes lost by more than five goals (and occasionally won by similar margins). That’s inevitable, given that recreational soccer teams are not balanced for skill or experience, just for age level. Sometimes random selection puts together three or four very good players (who are not, for whatever reason, playing competitive soccer). Sometimes, otherwise good teams have bad games.
As a parent and as a coach, you know within the first few minutes of a game whether the kids are “in to the game” or if they’re just counting the minutes ’til the final whistle. There’s one thing worse than being beaten by an opposing team by lots of goals . . . and that’s the other team obviously, ostentatiously, not scoring the goals.
I’ve only had it happen against my team once, about six years ago. We were the last-place team in the division and we were facing one of the top teams. It was late in the season, and my kids didn’t have much hope to win, but were still trying. The other team had a higher proportion of bigger players, in addition to having a few really good players. We were down six goals by halftime, and although we were still playing hard, they were out-playing us.
If the second half had gone the same way, it would have been just a bad loss. But the other coach decided to “take it easy” on my team, and loudly and repeatedly directed his players not to score. My players were humiliated for another 30 minutes of “play”. I was surprised we didn’t have fights breaking out on the field: it was that bad.
Next week, I barely had enough players show up for the game. Ironically, even with the few we had, we won that game handily.
Update, June 11: The league has decided to modify the rule:
In response to the feedback, the league decided to get rid of the rule, which will be rescinded starting June 14.
In its place, a new mercy rule will be instituted under which a game will be called once one team has a lead of eight goals. Whichever team is ahead at that time will be credited with the win, Cale said. Teams can then play on if they wish for player development, wrote Cale.