Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sports, subjectivity

Strange article at Yahoo news about kids being cut from sports teams. Implicit in the author's tone is that being cut from a sports team is somehow unjust, and that its "subjectivity" is a flaw in the process:

"Thousands of area teenagers suffered last week during high school sports tryouts, an increasingly high-stakes process both coaches and players abhor. As more families invest money into year-round club sports and intensive summer camps in an effort to propel their kids onto top high school teams, the pressure has increased on what remains a subjective tryout process. Because a spot on a varsity or junior varsity team can dramatically impact a teenager's self-confidence and social status, there is little tolerance of mistakes."

"Because of increased complaints from parents, many high school coaches now strive to make cuts more scientific. Until she retired last season, longtime Eleanor Roosevelt girls' soccer coach Kathy Lacey made her players run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes to make the team. Mike Bossom, the volleyball coach at Centennial, scores players with a number -- 1 through 5 -- for each drill and then logs the scores on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet."

It seems to me that it's not so much a teenage self-esteem problem as it is an aggressive parent problem. There will always be unjust cuts, and people will always have off days, but I don't think there's a better system than this one.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger Hans-Georg Gadamer said...

Charles - good post. I worked at a Lutheran camp two summers which followed the motto of "everyone is a winner." During an ultimate frisbee game after scoring I asked what the total was and a counselor said "ahh, we don't keep score, we just say 'two to one' or something close." When we had a camp competition there were never any individual or team winners: everyone won each event. What effect did this have? Well, for each competition my team cheated as much as possible since there seemed to be no point in following the rules if everyone wins. Perfect.
What I was really concerned about is that when these kids went home and started facing real challenges they would have no way to deal with "You're fired." Doesn't everyone win? Don't I get a medal for just being present? I think getting picked last in gym class or getting cut from sports teams is pretty tough (I know), but if we actually tried to learn from those experiences I think the kids would be better off.
Maybe if it was a Reformed Presbyterian camp they would have a better sense of the law than those silly Lutherans. Although then instead of actually playing games the counselors might role dice and arbitrarily choose "winners" and "losers" making clear that no one had to win in the first place, so the "losers" shouldn't be upset that the didn't get candy. Just a thought.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Mair said...

Hans - you are hilarious. But, I agree that the idea of "no winners" in a sport is pretty silly. Charles, I think you are right that the problem is over-protective parents who view their children as "trophies" not as human beings. I think there are a lot of parents out there who are trying to live their dreams through their children, and that is just BAD.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I think it also shows a failure in our understanding of self-esteem. I'd argue that unjustifiable rejection often improves your self-esteem by helping you to learn not to take things so personally. Getting cut from the insanely competitive highschool sports arena doesn't have to mean you're worthless if you refuse to believe it. And if you really want to play, join a local req league and practice like crazy. Both Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzkey were cut at one point or another in their years before going pro.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

The existence of this article notwithstanding, I don't see this emerging as a trend in high school sports (and I hope it never does.) redhurt, I like your point about "unjustifiable rejection"--I think struggle and conflict are essential to growth.


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