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Winning But at What Cost?

In any sport, the goal is to win. Plain and simple. Let’s be honest, it is about whether you win or lose, not just how you play the game.

But there is a line that many parents and coaches cross when it comes to winning. And that line is the difference between winning and winning at all costs.

Why Winning is Okay
Besides the fact that winning in youth sports is absolutely fun, there are some other reasons that winning is really okay:

  • It gives players a sense of accomplishment
  • It gives them a reward for their hard work
  • It helps teams see what happens when they play together
  • It encourages kids to continue playing sports
  • It gives players motivation to seek higher goals

Why Winning at all Costs is Not Okay

When winning becomes more important than the people who are playing, then the line has been crossed. Winning at all costs hurts players, parents and coaches because:

  • It places more value on results than on effort
  • It overlooks players who give 100% even though it’s not as good as another player’s 50%
  • It doesn’t care who gets trampled on or left behind
  • It ignores players who work hard all season and never miss, and adores kids who show up late and miss way too much just because they’ve got super skills
  • It worships the score board instead of caring about the development of each player
  • It puts the win above the safety of youth players
  • It often pushes good players to think they have to carry the team just for a win and thus develops a selfish attitude in them

Sadly it is on the school rugby field where the winning at all costs syndrome is apparently fuelled the most. All too often dangerous play, high tackles and off the ball incidents has become the norm in many schoolboy matches.

However the biggest concern is the attitude of the spectators who have been known to encourage and reward this kind of play with partisan cheering. The player who gets the yellow card is often regarded as the team hero and the coach continues to field him as he is the strongest player in the team. One parent reported that at a recent U15 festival this year a player received three yellow cards in three matches, but enjoyed the coach and teams continuous praise for his ruthless play.

Winning at all costs may be a win, but it is never a victory in youth sports. Is your child’s team striving to win, or to win at all costs?

Source: SA School Sports magazine