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. He said if anything, the league’s new rule will coddle sore losers.
Football isn’t exactly my area of expertise, but some uninformed questions come to mind. If a team is winning by 4-0, should the players be instructed to at all costs avoid targeting the other team’s goal, in case their proficiency backfires, as apparently it now should? Perhaps players for the winning team will feel obliged to run away from their opponents until the scores become more even. Would that make for a thrilling game? Will reluctant condescension really spare the feelings of the losing players? Will their feelings be spared by winning because they were the weaker team? Is winning through pity and contrivance what every player dreams of?
I’m also told there are things called “own goals.” I wonder, then, what happens under the new rules if a losing team is 5-0 down and inadvertently scores an own goal, thus sending the score above the face-saving five-point differential. Does the winning team forfeit the match? What if the own goal is intentional or suspicious and disputed? Wouldn’t the new rules create an incentive for the losing team to be selectively inept near their own goal, thereby “accidentally” frustrating their opponents?
The change of rules will affect 3,000 children between the ages of four and 18. Needless to say, some players and parents aren’t overly impressed. However, the league remains defiant:
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.”
And it throws in some egalitarian dogma too. Now shut the hell up. Just who do you parents think you are?
The official Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer handbook announces a mission to “promote the game of soccer while providing all participants with an equal opportunity to play and to develop in an atmosphere of fun, good sportsmanship and respect.” Keen eyed readers will note that “an opportunity to play” doesn’t seem to entail playing as well as you can. And I’m not quite clear how penalising competence squares with the professed ideals of sportsmanship. However, there is some encouraging news. The handbook helpfully urges talented teams to avoid the risk of forfeiture by “reducing the number of players on the field” and “kicking with the weaker foot.”
The money quote?
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.
Calling Harrison Bergeron...