Part of coaching youth sports at the YMCA is that every child gets a medal at the end of the season. Every player gets to be the Player of the Game once. It’s not based on standings, wins and losses, and who is the best. The sports programs are all about everyone plays and everyone wins.
This is a lot different from when I was playing sports when I was a kid. At every level we were out there keeping score and always knew who won and who lost. I was on some bad teams and some good teams.
Regardless of whether I was on bad or good teams, I still always had fun and enjoyed playing the game. Of course I liked to win more than I liked to lose. Everyone does. But I never left a game feeling like I was less of a person just because my team came out on the losing end.
I do find, however, that the method of coaching sports at the YMCA is just as fun as it would be if we used the competition method. Maybe more so. The kids are just out there to learn the basics of the game and learn good sportsmanship. Some of the kids would not have as much fun if the competition was the main focus.
They do start to keep score at certain levels depending on the sport. And I am sure that the parents on the sidelines and kids know when they are getting beat badly. I as a coach know when my team is not doing as well as the other team and vice versa, unless it’s a close game.
But even when they start keeping score, there is no big deal made about winning or losing. The kids get out there to have fun. There is no pressure from the parents to play one kid more than the other as long as they are all getting equal playing time. And no kid has to go away feeling bad because they missed the shot that could of won the game or they allowed the goal to lose the game. It truly does create an atmosphere which allows for everyone to play and everyone to win.
Prior to being involved in the YMCA program I heard stories of sports leagues where they did not focus on competition. I have a hard time understanding this. Sports, after all, is all about who wins and who loses. Who can make the plays and who can not. I thought the kids still would know who was winning and who was losing.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have actually found that I like the way the programs are not focused heavily on winning and losing. I found the kids really do still have a lot of fun. And I have not yet seen a child walk away feeling defeated and disappointed at the end of a game.
I do think that at a certain age and/or talent level competition would be acceptable, and even valuable. That age is not the same for all, and not the same for a person in all sports at the same time. But when the children are first learning the game I think focusing on competition takes away from the learning the basics of the game. You need to have a good understanding of the basics before you can become really good at the game.