Are ASFM student athletes really being prepared for reality when they’re being restrained from understanding the meaning of triumph and defeat?
Each year, the athletic directors and superintendents of ASOMEX member schools meet to make decisions regarding the tournament. About two years ago, “one of the concerns from the athletic directors was the hyper-competitiveness of the schools during the matches,” commented Dr. Adams. After taking time to research, the directors decided to change the elementary competitions by eliminating scores and focusing more on skill development and social integration. “The rules of the game will be exactly the same, minus the scores,” explained Dr. Adams. There will be no goals, no points, and no winners at the end of the tournament.
Yet the fun of the sport was not taken away from the players, only the satisfaction of winning and the misery of losing. One of the players affected commented that the adjustments were “unnecessary,” and that the sport now “lacks competitiveness.” Others expressed that “ASOMEX is not the same anymore” and that it’s a shame that they will have to wait until middle school to really compete. Many parents of the competitors have come to accept the new rules, but some still oppose this change; with one of them stating that “the school has not given sufficient importance to the magnitude and seriousness that facing national teams implicates.”
The testimony of high school players shows that holding back reality from children can be harmful. “In life, there always has to be someone that wins and someone that loses,” stated the ASOMEX soccer team captain Richard Husemann.
11th grade soccer player Rodrigo Bueno expressed that he is against this new protocol because “having competition motivates, inspires, and makes players give their best effort while still having fun. You grow as a person and as an athlete, and at the end of the day you will win or learn.” Roby Saldaña, who plays three sports, shares a similar view, saying: “If you don’t know how to lose you won’t know how to win. We saw it with ASF this ASOMEX; and with this new rule, they will get to 6th grade and they will not know how to compete.”
Scientific research seems to corroborate this point of view. Psychologist Kenneth Barrish, Ph.D., emphasized the importance of losing, stating that knowing how to accept defeat is an extremely important ability for kids, and that it is something that is not learned from speeches or lectures but rather from practice. School psychologist Ms. Acosta added that “sometimes the little ones don’t really understand what losing means, but eliminating it completely will not give them the skill to handle it.”
Try to think of a game that does not involve winning or losing; of an election where both candidates triumph; of a business exempt from encountering obstacles and rejections… Success and failure are inevitable parts of life that at any given moment anyone will experience, and hiding this reality from children, even if it is for a short period of time, could possibly set them up for failure in the future.