posted by Matt W on August 24th, 2011

As I helped my daughter clean up her room this weekend, I spent hours pushing her to get rid of all the crap she likes to keep. One of my first targets was all the soccer trophies she received just for me paying the entry fee. When did kids start getting trophies just for showing up?

One of the games I remember the most from her “everyone’s a winner even though we suck” soccer days was when her team lost 7-0 (yes I kept score) and her coach said to one of the team members who asked the score “We tied, we’re all winners”.  Now when I was a kid I always heard the old Jim Owens quote,” A tie is like kissing your sister”. Now I will say that the coach was a hot soccer mom and if her sister was equally attractive I wouldn’t have kept track of the score and indeed hoped for a tie, but I think old Jim’s point to his 1950’s football team was even a tie sucks. I’m sure wind sprints until someone puked followed his little speech and not a trip to the sideline for lemonade and cookies.

Now I’m not saying we need to retreat back to the 1950’s approach to coaching, especially when dealing with 8 year olds, but there really needs to be a middle ground between getting a trophy for showing up to run around and play bunch ball, and placing your child in the year-round expensive indentured servitude of club sports. Whatever happened to sports seasons and quality coaching at the Rec level?

Well, every once in a while quality coaching at the Rec level happens. I was talking with my son about coaches the other day and he said kids know the good coaches and the bad. His favorite coach was a rec league soccer coach from a few years back. He said that the coach did a few “nice kick” “nice pass” type comments (my son hated it when a parent said great kick for a long kick to the other team) but what stuck out to him was the “nice play, exactly how we practiced” comments followed by a high five. The coach was really excited with great execution. He said that, because of that, whenever the coach got in their face a little for not getting it right everybody was fine because when they got it right “Coach” was the first to point it out. That and the coach knew that in order to win, they needed to execute, and winning felt pretty good.

These are lessons that the kids of today need to learn: practice, execute, and succeed. They don’t need a trophy for showing up. Thanks “Coach” for teaching my son this valuable lesson.

File Under Weekend Warrior