"Non-Competitive" Sports and Politics

Katy Grimes: An advertisement in today’s Capitol Morning Report from Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty, requests parent volunteers to help coach “non-competitive” kids soccer. Unfortunately, this typifies Councilman McCarty’s brand of politics.

Non-competitive sports? Is that anything like non-competitive chess? Or a non-competitive game of Monopoly? Is there a non-competitive hockey league in America? Didn’t McCarty run a campaign for state Assembly recently? Did he win or lose, or will he share Roger Niello’s old seat with opponent Roger Dickinson so that no one is a loser?

Previously, all sports were considered competitive – even individual sports because eventually one had to compete against someone else. Fencing, swimming, gymnastics or running, there is competition. Sports were thought healthy for kids since they taught kids not only teamwork, but helped instill work ethic. The self-esteem gained from succeeding and achieving was thought at one time to be a positive experience.

But today, being competitive appears to politically incorrect. The thinking is that if everyone can’t win a blue ribbon or trophy for first place, team sports are bad and children are irreparably damaged from the hurt of the loss. There are no winners and losers today – everyone is a winner on today’s “non-competitive” teams.

Of course, I’m being petulant.

There are plenty of seriously competitive sports and teams, even for kids, but parents have to seek those out. To call a soccer team “non-competitive” is ridiculous. Why not call it a “recreation” soccer team; identify it as a friendly, fair team where all of the kids gets time to play.

By taking the competition out of sports, the game should be renamed “Socialist Soccer,” which many people feel the game already is. Convinced that soccer teaches kids all the wrong lessons in life, National Review contributor Stephen Moore wrote in 1998, “In soccer, every mother’s child is above average. There’s no shame in losing and a tie is the likely outcome. The game’s egalitarian philosophy extends to the absurdity of giving every kid a trophy at the end of the season.”

Moore equates sports and capitalism and explains, “The purpose of a capitalist economy is to produce the maximum output for the least amount of exertion.”

One benefit of sports is to teach children that they will get out of the sport what they put into it. But that apparently is contrary to the euro-mindset sport, offering little or no reward for competitiveness and effort, with low scoring games.

America was not built on a zero-sum mentality – for every win there must not be a loss. What a negative lesson to teach a kid who is striving to be the best at something, or even has a God-given talent and achieves above others.

“Non-competitive” sports were named such for liberal parents who can’t bear teaching that you win some and you lose some; some people are better than you at some things, but it’s okay to shine at the thing you are good at.

The zero-sum mentality has infected far too much of society today, including sports. Even though calling sports “non-competitive” may make parents feel better, the damage to kids is obviously lost on those same parents. Preparing kids for a lifetime of excuse-making for failing to achieve and mediocrity produces a culture full of bureaucrats and few achievers.

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