George Will reported in his Newsweek column, “More Stimulating that the Stimulus,” that “In Ottawa, the sensitivity police in a children’s soccer league announced that any team attaining a five-goal lead would be declared to have lost, thereby sparing the feelings of those who were, if you will pardon the expression, losing.”

This was confirmed by many other articles including, “Win a soccer game by more than five pints and you lose, Ottawa league says.”  Although the title says enough, here are some quotes from the article, “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… Club director Sean 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. The new rule, suggested by ‘involved parents,’ is a temporary measure that will be replaced by a pre-season skill assessment to make fair teams.”

The Club fields teams between the ages of 4 and 17.

It’s hard to keep calm when we hear this kind of idiocy.  I suppose next they’ll want the Ottawa Senators to stop shooting if the ever get a two goal lead.

The bullies here are not good soccer players who score many goals, although they might be if they go overboard into vicious fouling and nasty taunting against overmatched opponents.  The bullies here are the members of the Club Board who act like self-appointed “Self-Esteem Police.”

Bullying by “Professional Victims”
One of the 5 types of bullying that we deal with regularly is the “Profession Victims” who use their hyper-sensitivity and hurt feelings to manipulate and control their environment.  They win when you accept that your job is not to hurt their sensitive feelings.  Professional Victims and their supporters say your job is to do everything they want in order to please them…and they’re never satisfied. They win when everyone else is walking on eggshells to avoid hurting their feelings and causing them to blow up or withdraw into a pouting silence.

The rules of soccer, when followed, already make the game fair.

Professional Victims assume that their children’s psyches and self-esteem are weak and fragile
The slightest problem will damage them forever.  As if kids can’t maintain their self-esteem when they’re beaten badly by a better team.

I assume, on the contrary, that children begin strong and have to be taught to see themselves as weak and fragile
Children are not damaged by failing or learning their present location in the hierarchy of inborn gifts and hard work.  I assume that when children fail it’s because they haven’t worked hard enough.  The solution to not succeeding is to work harder to fulfill your potential.  Children survive intense pressure, challenge and struggle.  When they improve, their self-confidence and sense of competence increases.

Also, we all have much more choice about how we feel

You have to be taught to have low self-esteem after you lose at something you know you’re not very good at.  You have to be taught to have stress, anxiety and depression after you lose.  You have to be taught to wallow in negative self-talk and self-bullying.  You have to be taught to give up.

People who succeed in life respond by directing their energy into a vow to do better and a determination to work harder, get better and win at life
We’ve all been beaten down at times.  We’ve all found out where we stand in the hierarchy of who’s faster, stronger, smarter, prettier.  And our position in that hierarchy has nothing to do with happiness or self-esteem.  Ask any great athlete how they motivate themselves after having been beaten.  Ask any great mother or father how they motivate themselves to do better after they’re done something really dumb in their family.

The general rule is never to give the Self-Esteem Police or the Professional Victims credence or power.  Tell them to suck it up; stop creating and wallowing in hurt feelings.  The lesson for these kids is to have more inner strength, courage and perseverance and to get more skillful so you can succeed in the real-world.

We need to learn how to win.  Winning is critical for our survival as individuals and societies.

The general rule in winning big is to not be a jerk about it.  Grownups are supposed to learn not to thrash their kids when they’re young,  The big kids in any extended family are supposed to learn how to make it fun for the little kids to play ball with them.  We’re supposed to learn how to be gracious winners when someone isn’t in our league in any game.

The general rule in dealing with defeat is to gather yourself, get more skillful and do better next time.  And if you’re not good enough to be a champion, decide to be happy enjoying playing at any game in life, whether it’s sport, dance, music, art or any other area of endeavor where there are only a few “work class” players.

By the way, so much scorn was heaped on the Ottawa soccer club that they did get rid of that rule.  They now have a new mercy rule “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,”

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Resources Cited: http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/01/will-what-we-learned-in-2010.html# and http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/06/01/win-a-soccer-game-by-more-than-five-points-and-you-lose-ottawa-league-says/

Ben Leichtling, Ph.D. is author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “Eliminate the High cost of Low Attitudes.” He is available for coaching, consulting and speaking.  To find practical, real-world tactics to stop bullies and bullying at home, school, work and in relationships, see his web site (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com) and blog (http://www.BulliesBeGoneBlog.com).

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